Bailey legislation on hearing-loss prevention soon to be law

Thursday the Senate unanimously concurred with changes made in the House to Senate Bill 5177, sponsored by Sen. Barbara Bailey, meaning the bill will become law without further action. It will require that long-term care workers be trained to recognize hearing loss in their patients.

“Many people will at some point experience loss of hearing, and we must make sure our health-care professionals are trained to recognize the signs and provide the care that patients will need,” said Bailey, R-Oak Harbor. “This law will require additional training for long-term care workers so that they can adequately address this critical health issue.”

Aging populations are at an increased risk for hearing loss. According to the National Institute on Deafness, “nearly 25 percent of those aged 65 to 74 and 50 percent of those who are 75 and older have disabling hearing loss,” which could lead to isolation and possible exacerbation of other medical conditions as communication capabilities deteriorate.

“I have been working on aging-related issues since I joined the Legislature,” Bailey added. “Hearing loss can be an isolating and terrifying experience. We need to ensure our state’s aging population has proper care to resolve the social and emotional challenges that can occur from hearing-loss.”

Recent studies suggest a link between cognitive problems, even dementia and hearing loss. AARP notes, “hearing loss seemed to speed up age-related cognitive decline.”