by Jessica Leach

It’s only been a few weeks since Berneice Bailey was fitted for hearing devices and she says, “it feels great, wonderful; it’s a whole different world.”

Bailey, 83, who lives in nearby Iroquois, Ontario, has been living with hearing loss for several years. Until COVID-19 made mask wearing mandatory, she survived by lip reading. She has since been struggling to hear her family members, including her six kids, twelve grandchildren and a whopping thirty-three great-grandchildren.

“It’s hard to socialize with people when you can’t hear them,” she said.

According to a 2020 report, nearly half of Canadians aged 60 and older have some form of hearing loss, which has been found to be the largest modifiable risk factor for dementia.

A doctor’s referral is not needed to book a hearing test, but it was Berneice’s doctor who suggested it. She booked a free test through HearingLife Canada’s Kemptville location. The free test revealed that Berneice has profound hearing loss. She also faced another barrier: she is a retired widow on a pension and the cost of hearing devices is a significant investment.

Luckily for Berneice, the National Campaign for Better Hearing gives Canadians access to hearing devices they may not have otherwise been able to afford. For every hearing test taken at a HearingLife Canada clinic, $4 is allocated through HearingLife’s “Give Back Program” to the Campaign that donates devices to those in need. The Campaign also recommends those over the age of 60 make hearing tests part of their annual health regimen with the catchy reminder: “Test your ears at 60 years.”

“I nominated Berneice for the Campaign for Better Hearing because, as a great-grandmother to thirty-three and with six children of her own, it’s clear that she has to contend with complex listening situations, made all the more challenging due to COVID-19 masks,” said Danielle Menzies-Toman, an audiologist at HearingLife Canada’s Kemptville location. “Despite everything, she remains a sharp-witted lady in good physical health, and I was committed to helping her stay this way.”

Menzies-Toman says that, because hearing loss is associated with dementia and other cognitive and social challenges, fitting people with hearing aids helps restore the auditory input and keeps the brain “fit.”

“I would describe this as the ‘use it or lose it’ approach to keeping the brain healthy and strong,” she said. “It’s my hope that these hearing aids will keep Berneice’s brain active and her life interesting and meaningful as she ages.”

When asked what advice she would give to anyone considering getting their hearing tested, Berneice enthusiastically says, “Do it.” She’s already encouraged a few of her friends to get their hearing checked.

For tips and information on how to book a free hearing test with no physician referral needed, visit


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