With a rapidly growing population of older Minnesotans, age-related hearing loss has become a public health issue. We must support healthy aging by increasing early identification of hearing loss and providing access to needed services and products. It is important to provide this support so we can prevent physical and cognitive decline and older adults can continue to be an active part of their workplaces, families, and communities. Visit our Hearing Loss Matters site to learn more about this.
Who this impacts
- Seniors who may have age-related hearing loss and either do not know it or they downplay its importance
- Family members, friends, and coworkers of adults with age-related hearing loss
- Medical providers
- Insurance providers
The Commission’s work on age-related hearing loss began with a Task Force of agencies and organizations that address aging and hearing loss to create an action plan with timelines, measurable goals, and assigned responsibilities that will create a framework the state can use to support healthy aging for seniors with hearing loss in Minnesota. The Task Force first convened from 2014-2015 and set up a list of recommendations. In 2018, the Task Force reconvened to continue the work.
2014-2015 final recommendations
What did the task force set as the desired outcomes?
- The knowledge that "there's help and there's hope". This means that Minnesotans who are 55 and older would know what options (technology and resources) are available to them and have choices in the treatment and care they receive. It also means that there would be awareness among professionals, people with age-related hearing loss, their families and the general public about hearing loss and its consequences.
- Affordable, accessible and effective healthcare. This includes screening, which supports healthy aging for people with age-related hearing loss. Minnesotans and health care providers would have knowledge in regards to hearing loss screening and identification. Policymakers would allocate money for screening and devices.
- The physical environment supports people with age-related hearing loss.
What did the members of the task force do to advance these goals?
- Developed hearing screening standards for older adults. The Minnesota Department of Health has convened a group that developed recommendations for standardized screening and is working on the next steps. You can watch the documentary film, Hearing Loss Matters, on TPT on demand.
- Produced a documentary on age-related hearing loss, Hearing Loss Matters. The Commission and TPT Twin Cities PBS co-produced the documentary and is developing training and advocacy tools to educate older adults and their families about age-related hearing loss.
- Worked on public policy changes.
- In the process of testing how effective community intervention would be with over-the-counter devices called personal sound amplification devices. MNCDHH is working with the Minnesota Department of Health and possibly the University of Minnesota to determine possible funding and how we might collaborative on a pilot project.