Cochlear Implants: How well do they work at an older age?

Posted by billchitwood @billchitwood, Sep 7 11:11am

Looks like I might be a candidate for a cochlear implant. I'm 81 and wondering how well people have done with the implant at an older age. Is it easier to adjust to hearing as having had good hearing for most of my life? Any suggestions/information appreciated.

@billchitwood, good question. Allow me to tag a few members like @julieo4 @edemmenegger @lizzy102 to share their experiences. You may also be interested in these related discussions:

– What's your review of Cochlear Osia 2 System? https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/cochlears-osia-2-reviews/
– If you're a candidate for a cochlear implant, what will you do? https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/if-youre-a-candidate-for-a-cochlear-implant-what-will-you-do/
– My Cochlear Implant – a journal https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/my-cochlear-implant-a-journal/

REPLY

I had been struggling with poor hearing in one ear for years, got worse as I aged. I had a cochlear implant at age 82 last March, can now listen to public radio in my car and my family can tell my hearing has improved. I would definitely do it again, it's amazing to hear with a once-deaf ear. Not an instant fix, you have to do homework.

REPLY

I personally know several people in their 80s who have had successful cochlear implants. They are amazed at how much this has helped them. If you are in good health there is no reason why age should keep you from getting a CI. Success can also relate to how long you have been without good hearing, or without being aided for hearing loss. When the hearing mechanism has been used as best it can be, CIs tend to work better and sometimes faster. It's important to understand that it takes the brain time to adjust to hearing differently. For some that time is short, for others it may take longer. Lots has to do with rehabilitation that you can do for yourself both before and after getting a CI. If you use hearing aids now, I suggest you use them to connect to an audio source regularly for practice. If your hearing aids have telecoils, invest in a neckloop that can be plugged in to a radio, computer, ipod, etc. If not, put on a pair of good quality headphones and plug into to those devices. It does help rehabilitate the sense of hearing a bit.

When I was implanted I was 65. I had been told a year prior, to do this. I spent a lot of time listing to a portable radio via telecoils and also with a headset. I had not worn a hearing aid in the ear I had the CI done on for years so that ear had what is called 'sensory deprivation'. It was not used to listening. I found as time went on, by using a headset, I was able to understand speech that had previously been garble. I didn't not necessarily like what I was hearing as it wasn't completely clear, but it was a sign that ear was actually working. The brain has remarkable elasticity. It's easy to think that 'old ears cannot learn new tricks', but that isn't true. The brain does adjust.

I wish you luck and encourage you to go for it. Keep us posted.

REPLY

I have an appointment on the 17th (Mayo) to discuss CI options. I've faithfully used a hearing aid since about 2016 – just recently was fitted for the Phonak Paradise but it hasn't helped with background noise, groups, etc. and I keep getting dermatitis. Dr Le is talking one CI and one hearing aid. I do love the phone going directly into the ears! Makes a fantastic difference. I wear the aids about 12+ hours a day. I don't have any headphones. Husband keeps TV on most of the time, which I ignore while working on genealogy lol. Not sure if I could set up a bluetooth connection with my Lenovo – need a grandkid to check into that for me or go google!

Thanks for all the comments and support. At the moment I'm leaning towards the Cochlear and their Kanso 2 (might help with the dermatitis.

REPLY

Great that you are going to be evaluated for a CI. I use both a hearing aid and have a CI. My current CI processor is an N6 by Cochlear Corp. They work well together. That is referred to as being 'bimodal' as we are using 2 different technologies to hear. Both the CI processor and the hearing aid can stream to your cell phone, to TV, etc. None of the processors use ear molds like hearing aids do, so dermatitis should not be a problem. The Kanso 2 is an excellent processor, but it lacks a built in telecoil. I use telecoils a lot, so would not be happy with the new Kanso. Do you use the telecoils in your hearing aids?

REPLY
@julieo4

Great that you are going to be evaluated for a CI. I use both a hearing aid and have a CI. My current CI processor is an N6 by Cochlear Corp. They work well together. That is referred to as being 'bimodal' as we are using 2 different technologies to hear. Both the CI processor and the hearing aid can stream to your cell phone, to TV, etc. None of the processors use ear molds like hearing aids do, so dermatitis should not be a problem. The Kanso 2 is an excellent processor, but it lacks a built in telecoil. I use telecoils a lot, so would not be happy with the new Kanso. Do you use the telecoils in your hearing aids?

Jump to this post

I don't believe the trial Phonak Paradise Audio has the telecoil and my 5 year old ones couldn't hook up to anything. Not even sure what the telecoils would do for me.

REPLY

@billchitwood

Hi,
I trialed the Phonak Nadia Paradise UP aids and they have the Tcoil. I wouldn’t buy any aids without one. My Audi had to call Phonak to double check before ordering. I did not buy them after the trial and their Phonak app is mainly useless.

FL Mary

REPLY
@imallears

@billchitwood

Hi,
I trialed the Phonak Nadia Paradise UP aids and they have the Tcoil. I wouldn’t buy any aids without one. My Audi had to call Phonak to double check before ordering. I did not buy them after the trial and their Phonak app is mainly useless.

FL Mary

Jump to this post

I've found that the background noise is so overwhelming that I can not hear conversations unless in a quiet location and one on one. In the kitchen the refrigerator is so loud it blocks out conversations. It is like it is doing the opposite of what I need.

REPLY
@billchitwood

I don't believe the trial Phonak Paradise Audio has the telecoil and my 5 year old ones couldn't hook up to anything. Not even sure what the telecoils would do for me.

Jump to this post

A hearing aid or cochlear processor without a telecoil is like a car without air conditioning. You don't need it all the time, but when you do it's invaluable!

The telecoil is what connects your hearing devices to all the technology mandated by the American's with Disabilities Act. That is referred to as 'communication access'. Transmitters should be installed in all performing arts centers, in auditoriums, in meeting rooms, churches, etc. However, the ADA also requires that people ask for access, so it forces us to know what we need in order to be able to ask. Consequently, many places get by without providing access. In regions of the US where HLAA chapters are active, you will find far more places with this technology because people have requested it, educated about it, and advocated for it. It's a vicious circle, but the reality is, we who have hearing loss deserve to be able to participate in society just as those who need curb cuts for mobility access do.

It's a terrible shame that the people who sell hearing aids do not educate their 'customers' about the options a hearing aid can provide. There has been a huge push to sell BlueTooth features that add considerable cost to hearing aids. Telecoils add less than $15. BlueTooth is wonderful at connecting wirelessly to some audio devices, but it doesn't work in venues with public address systems. The reason, in a nutshell, is that in order to connect with a BT hearing device, the speaker/PA system has to have a microphone that interacts with each specific BT device. Imagine a presenter having to wear 50 microphones because there are 50 people in the arena that need to connect. One transmitter, attached to a PA system is all that is needed to connect to all the telecoil equipped 'receivers' in the arena.

Telecoils don't matter until you know what they can do. Ask the audiologist you are working with about them, and insist that they let you try them before you buy hearing aids.

REPLY

Will do. Thank you for the description.

REPLY
@billchitwood

I've found that the background noise is so overwhelming that I can not hear conversations unless in a quiet location and one on one. In the kitchen the refrigerator is so loud it blocks out conversations. It is like it is doing the opposite of what I need.

Jump to this post

@billchitwood

I understand completely and your Audi should be able to mute some of that noise and balance out the area where speech is still audible but background noise doesn’t interfere too much. That is a challenging adjustment and my Audi has done that for me. And it has little to do with volume.

There will always be overwhelming venues but you should be comfortable in your own home and in your daily routine coming and going. Go back and keep going back for adjustments until your everyday environment is more comfortable. Tell the Audi you don’t need to hear the fridge or even the AC. She can do that adjustment without compromising speech intelligibility too much.

Also have your molds checked for proper fitting if you wear BTEs.
There should be no leakage of sound. Phonak does not make good molds in my opinion. My Audi switched to Westone and I am wearing a new mold from them with a better seal and softer material and that goes up the concha a bit to keep it in place. I have never had a vent in my molds. Molds make all the difference in the world and not enough emphasis is put on their importance to optimal hearing. For my profound loss I need a full seal around the main piece and an extra long piece that goes into the canal.

Go get em…..Aids are too expensive to settle for anything but the best.

FL Mary

REPLY

Right on FL Mary! I might also mention that ear molds that are custom cast and custom fit are often better than the domes they are using in many of the hearing aids today. Domes don't need custom fitting, but come in a few different sizes. I'm always amazed/amused….whatever….when I see people with hearing aids on and the domes are hanging out of their ears, not in the ear canal. They are not working that way. Reality is that it's difficult for many people to keep those domes inserted. Domes don't require skilled casting/fitting, so are much easier and less time consuming to promote than the good old fashioned ear molds are. Earmolds are cast like dental inlays, and are custom fit, which takes a skilled provider.

REPLY
Please sign in or register to post a reply.
  Request Appointment