“I will never have to go through what my mother went through.”
Deafness runs in Jeanne O’Brien Bender’s family. Both her grandparents were deaf, as well as her mother, and they couldn’t afford hearing aids.
“I just remember my mother thinking people were talking about her,” Jeanne told us. “She got more and more quiet at family gatherings. I was always aware of that, and I didn’t want it to happen to me.”
But she knew she was losing her hearing, and she couldn’t afford to pay for hearing aids. “I thought I was getting ready to follow in her footsteps,” she said.
Then Jeanne got lucky. She had a friend who happened to be dating an audiologist, and he noticed that she kept asking people to repeat themselves.
“He said, ‘Have you had your hearing tested?’ I said ‘Yes, but I can’t afford hearing aids.’ He asked me if I knew about the Lions Sight & Hearing Foundation. He introduced me, and the rest is history.”
Jeanne was quickly approved for help, and now she doesn’t have to worry about living through the same isolation her mother experienced. At a recent birthday celebration, she told us, she was able to participate in conversations despite the live jazz music in the restaurant and a crowd talking at high volume.
“It’s like a feather in my cap that I will never have to go through what my mother went through,” she told us. “I’m very, very lucky and very, very blessed.”