Hearing loss can have a profound impact on a person’s quality of life, which is why hearing aids play a critical role in allowing people with hearing impairments to communicate effectively and engage fully in work, school, and social activities. The use of hearing aids has been linked to reduced isolation and improved self-esteem, cognition, communication, relationships, and overall health. 

However, hearing aids are expensive, with costs often ranging from $1,000 to $4,000 for a single device. This puts them out of reach financially for many individuals who need them. Donating a used hearing aid provides access to this essential technology for someone in need. By giving the gift of hearing, you can make a life-changing difference for the recipient. Donating also benefits society, as those who can fully participate through improved hearing contribute more socially and economically.

Who Needs Hearing Aids

donating hearing aids

Hearing loss is one of the most common conditions affecting older adults. About 2 in 3 people over the age of 70 have hearing loss, according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD). Hearing loss can also affect younger people. About 15% of American adults between the ages of 18 and over have hearing issues, according to the NIDCD. The causes for it are varied; some lose their hearing due to constant exposure to loud noises, while others suffer genetic syndromes or injuries to the ear.

People from any age group can be in need of a pair of hearing aids in order to have a better quality of life, which is why your donation can be incredibly meaningful for an individual and their loved ones. 

The Cost Barrier

The high cost of hearing aids is the primary reason why many people who need them go without them. On average, a pair of hearing aids in the US costs anywhere from $1,000 to $4,000. For comparison, a 2015 survey by the National Council on Aging found that the average income for adults aged 65+ was around $26,150 per year. With roughly 48 million Americans having some degree of hearing loss, the expense is simply out of reach for a large portion of those affected.

Even those with insurance coverage can struggle to afford hearing aids. While some private insurance plans may provide partial reimbursement, coverage is limited. And for those relying on Medicare, hearing aids are unfortunately not covered at all. With no assistance from insurance, many are faced with impossible out-of-pocket expenses. Donating used or new hearing aids helps address this critical gap for those unable to afford this life-changing technology.

Donating Hearing Aids

donating hearing aids

While hearing aids can be quite expensive to purchase, many hearing aid owners no longer need their devices for a variety of reasons. Sometimes, it’s because the hearing aids belonged to a family member who passed away, whereas other times, it’s because they bought a new pair and don’t need an extra one. Rather than keeping old hearing aids in a drawer, there are opportunities to pay it forward by donating them.

Donating used hearing aids enables those who still function properly to be provided to someone less fortunate. Many charitable organizations accept donated hearing aids and distribute them to those in need at low or no cost, but you can also donate to a local clinic or a school near you. 

Donating new, unopened hearing aids is another excellent way to contribute. Many hearing aid manufacturers and audiology clinics participate in donation programs where they provide new devices to charitable organizations. 

Organizations That Accept Donations

donating hearing aids

Several well-established non-profits and programs accept hearing aid donations and help get them to those in need. Here are some of the major organizations to consider donating to:

The Lions Club

The Lions Club is one of the largest and most well-known hearing aid donation programs. With clubs located throughout the US and internationally, the Lions Club collects used hearing aids and eyeglasses to donate through their local chapters. Donated hearing aids are refurbished and distributed to those with financial need.

The Hearing Aid Project 

The Hearing Aid Project is a non-profit that provides free hearing aids and services to low-income individuals. They accept donated hearing aids of all makes and models as long as they are in working condition.  Since 2002, they have donated over 10,000 hearing aids.

Hear Now

Hear Now is a non-profit program sponsored by the Starkey Hearing Foundation. They assist low-income, deaf, and hard-of-hearing persons across the US by providing hearing aids and related services. Used hearing aids can be mailed directly to their program for donation. They have distributed over 6,000 hearing aids to those in need.

Hearing the Call

Hearing the Call works to supply hearing aids and care to veterans in need. They accept donated hearing aids of any age or condition since they are able to salvage working parts. Hearing aids can be donated at collection sites or mailed in.

Medicos en Acción

Medicos en Acción is an organization that provides hearing aids and medical care to underprivileged communities in Latin America. Donated hearing aids are cleaned, tested, and brought on medical missions for fitting.

Olive Osmond Hearing Fund

The Olive Osmond Hearing Fund is dedicated to assisting children in need of hearing aids and speech therapy. Donated pediatric hearing aids that are in good condition are redistributed to children whose families cannot afford them.

The Donation Process

Donating used hearing aids is a relatively straightforward process. Here are the typical steps:

  1. Gather any hearing aids and accessories you wish to donate, such as batteries, ear molds, or chargers. Make sure the devices are clean and in good working condition.
  1. Contact a hearing donation organization to ask about their donation guidelines. Some accept mailed donations, while others require you to bring the devices to a local chapter. 
  1. Reset the hearing aids to factory settings. This removes any personal settings and clears the memory. If you are unsure how to reset them, refer to the user manual.
  1. Package the hearing aids securely with padded envelopes or boxes. Make sure to include any accessories and include a note describing the make and model of the devices.
  1. Ship the package to the organization or drop it off at a local chapter. Be sure to get a receipt for tax deduction purposes.
  1. Fill out any required donation forms the organization provides. List each device you are donating along with the estimated value.

Following these steps ensures your donated hearing aids arrive safely and can be refurbished for use by someone in need. With a simple process, you can give the gift of hearing and change someone’s life.

Benefits to Recipients

donating hearing aids

Hearing loss can have devastating effects if left untreated. It leads to social isolation, depression, and declining cognitive abilities. The impact is especially severe for children who require hearing for proper speech and language development.  

Hearing aids are costly, with an average price of $2,300 per device. For low-income families, the elderly, and developing countries, this puts them far out of reach. Donations give the gift of hearing to those who need it most. It allows children to thrive at school, helps adults succeed at work, and enables the elderly to stave off isolation. Most importantly, it restores human connection. The improvement in quality of life is immeasurable.

Tax Benefits

donating hearing aids

Donating your used hearing aids can provide you with a tax deduction as a charitable contribution. The amount you can deduct depends on whether you donate to a qualifying 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and whether you itemize your deductions.

To qualify for a deduction, you must donate to an organization recognized by the IRS as tax-exempt. Many charities that accept hearing aid donations have this status, but it’s a good idea to check first. 

If you itemize deductions on your tax return, you can generally deduct the fair market value of your donated hearing aid. The charity may be able to provide you with an appraisal or estimate of the value. You should keep records such as receipts from the organization and consult with your tax advisor to determine the deductible amount and required documentation. 

Consider Keeping It As a Backup

If you’re unsure of whether to donate your hearing aids or not after you get new ones, you can consider keeping the old ones as a backup. Old hearing aids can make an excellent backup pair in case your current set stops working or needs repairs. Of course, donating your old hearing aids is a wonderful act. But keeping them as a backup option can provide you with significant security and convenience benefits as well, and if you finally decide you really don’t need them, you’ll be relieved to know donating them will make a positive impact on someone else’s life.

Conclusion

donating hearing aids

Donating your gently used hearing aids can make a profound difference. Many people with hearing loss simply cannot afford new hearing aids, which often cost thousands of dollars. By giving your old hearing aids, you allow someone the gift of hearing – which can be life changing. They may hear their grandchild’s voice clearly for the first time or feel less isolated by being able to communicate effectively. 

Think about the impact your donated hearing aids could have. The sounds of nature, music, and loved ones’ voices could become accessible to someone in need. You have the power to improve their health, happiness, and quality of life through your thoughtful donation.

While keeping old hearing aids for backup is wise, if yours are sitting unused, consider paying the gift of hearing forward. Contact a donation program to find out how to give the gift of hearing today. Your generous action could have a positive ripple effect in someone’s world.

Eleftheria Georganti
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Eleftheria's world revolves around sound - whether it's designing high-quality audio applications, crunching numbers in audio signal processing (DSP), decoding room acoustics, listening to music or crafting the latest hearing aid technology and new features. She has a professional career spanning over 15 years and a strong research record (over 40 articles and patents) and has been the driving force behind top-notch products at leading hearing aid and audio tech companies. But what really makes her enthusiastic is sharing what she knows. As an avid writer, she loves spreading the word on the science of hearing, hearing aids and health technologies. Her ultimate goal? To give people with hearing impairments the insights they need to live their best life.

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