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

Posted by Julie Chitwood @billchitwood, Sep 7, 2021

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.

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Thank you. Family is a major help in practicing. And in giving encouragement, which is a major help. One of the things everyone on this site is so good about. Makes a world of difference knowing you are not alone in the journey.

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@billchitwood

Yesterday the 'clan' celebrated son's 62 birthday with a Taco Bar. I followed some suggestions for hearing in group situations and this time I did so much better. One was just listen to one conversation and ignore the others. Place body in a good position to be able to turn to whoever was speaking at the time. Don't fret if I don't get the whole conversation. Enjoy just being with them. At one point we were all (10 plus the one year old) gathered in the family room in a circle telling stories on ourselves. For the most part one speaker at a time. I caught almost every word using both the HA and CL!

Also, driving over, Robin had the radio on in the car while we were talking and I managed to pretty much block the radio out so I could hear her.

Either I'm getting smarter about hearing situations or my brain is taking control.

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You are doing great! Thank you for sharing your progress with the CI. You and your brain are both getting smarter! 🙂

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My family is extremely creative in helping me with my 'homework'. Yesterday Cindy, my DIL, dressed us all up and son Craig took Cindy, his sister Robin and me off to the Gold Canyon AZ Renaissance Faire so I could practice my noisy hearing. They were willing to sacrifice in order to help me! One thing the costumes did was create a lot of opportunities to talk with strangers, especially young children of all ages. I couldn't even beginning to count how many people showed up and were wandering around. Music was playing. Vendors were yelling, people were talking and laughing, shows were using microphones, jousters were eliciting yells from their supporters while on one stage a wolfman was howling.

And I could hear it! Not only hear it but understand most of it. Well, not the joust announcer. Turns out the rest of the family couldn't understand her either. One show consisted of a lot of drums and they sounds just like I remembered them. Either the Faire's speaker system was really set up to help those with hearing problems or my HA/CI were working overtime.

By the end of the day my feet were pretty tired (a lot of walking around) but my hearing wasn't tired. I had truly expected to miss most of what was going on as noisy situations are still very difficult as the background seems so much louder than the person in front of me. I do have to admit that the times I removed my HA to just practice with the CI it was more work, but doable.

It was so much fun having a little girl dressed as a fairy come up to tell me how she liked my dress and I could tell her how beautiful she was, and understand the conversations. Young children can be difficult to understand even under normal circumstances.

I wonder what the kids and/or grandkids – or greats – will come up with for my next homework assignment? Can't wait!

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Hi Julie, I've just been reading your CI process/experience and it's wonderful. I love your humor. I think laughter is some of the best medicine! I am scheduled for CI surgery at Mayo in Rochester in early June, so your detailed experiences are so helpful.
I believe I have some nerve damage on the right side of my face (mild but that area feels different than the left side of my face). You mention the facial nerve monitoring and some of the issues from that. Did all of that resolve for you?
It's also interesting to read about your activation and experience at Mayo. All that sounds great with Mayo taking good care of everything. One interesting difference is that I should get activated the day after surgery and then have another audi appointment the next day for tweeking before I head home.
I'm scared and exited!

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@billchitwood

My family is extremely creative in helping me with my 'homework'. Yesterday Cindy, my DIL, dressed us all up and son Craig took Cindy, his sister Robin and me off to the Gold Canyon AZ Renaissance Faire so I could practice my noisy hearing. They were willing to sacrifice in order to help me! One thing the costumes did was create a lot of opportunities to talk with strangers, especially young children of all ages. I couldn't even beginning to count how many people showed up and were wandering around. Music was playing. Vendors were yelling, people were talking and laughing, shows were using microphones, jousters were eliciting yells from their supporters while on one stage a wolfman was howling.

And I could hear it! Not only hear it but understand most of it. Well, not the joust announcer. Turns out the rest of the family couldn't understand her either. One show consisted of a lot of drums and they sounds just like I remembered them. Either the Faire's speaker system was really set up to help those with hearing problems or my HA/CI were working overtime.

By the end of the day my feet were pretty tired (a lot of walking around) but my hearing wasn't tired. I had truly expected to miss most of what was going on as noisy situations are still very difficult as the background seems so much louder than the person in front of me. I do have to admit that the times I removed my HA to just practice with the CI it was more work, but doable.

It was so much fun having a little girl dressed as a fairy come up to tell me how she liked my dress and I could tell her how beautiful she was, and understand the conversations. Young children can be difficult to understand even under normal circumstances.

I wonder what the kids and/or grandkids – or greats – will come up with for my next homework assignment? Can't wait!

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What a fun post/experience to read about. Thank you for sharing this. Family members, friends, etc. are so important in this process. 🙂 You are very fortunate to have that kind of support.

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@lynn4hearing

Hi Julie, I've just been reading your CI process/experience and it's wonderful. I love your humor. I think laughter is some of the best medicine! I am scheduled for CI surgery at Mayo in Rochester in early June, so your detailed experiences are so helpful.
I believe I have some nerve damage on the right side of my face (mild but that area feels different than the left side of my face). You mention the facial nerve monitoring and some of the issues from that. Did all of that resolve for you?
It's also interesting to read about your activation and experience at Mayo. All that sounds great with Mayo taking good care of everything. One interesting difference is that I should get activated the day after surgery and then have another audi appointment the next day for tweeking before I head home.
I'm scared and exited!

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They just monitored for nerve problems as they preformed the surgery – this was to ensure I didn't have any problems. I had a slight red spot on my lip/mouth area, which didn't hurt and healed up really quickly.

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Cochlear implants can keep us ahead of our aging peers when it comes to age related hearing loss in some cases. Enjoy this article.

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Aging with Cochlear Implants: Beverly Biederman, a bilateral CI recipient, was a pioneer with CI technology when she was implanted 30 years ago. She now feels she hears better than most of her friends who are dealing with age related hearing loss.

Shared files

Biederman article for MCC (Biederman-article-for-MCC.pdf)

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If this is okay to post I would like to share a Blog that I wrote which was just posted by AB. The picture just shows a part of our extended tribe, all who are determined to help me 'learn' to hear them.
https://www.advancedbionics.com/com/en/home/contact-us/blog/articles/youre-never-too-old-to-reclaim-your-hearing-chitwood.html

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@billchitwood

If this is okay to post I would like to share a Blog that I wrote which was just posted by AB. The picture just shows a part of our extended tribe, all who are determined to help me 'learn' to hear them.
https://www.advancedbionics.com/com/en/home/contact-us/blog/articles/youre-never-too-old-to-reclaim-your-hearing-chitwood.html

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Thank you for the wonderful day brightener! I'm wishing you continued improvement – it will be lovely being in your daughter's home where there will be more people to "practice" with. You are just inspiring Julie. And having you talk about the tinnitus being less, I will definitely be calling the audiologist for an appointment when I get home – it is worse now than it was in September, when she said I was about ready for an aid to help me.
Sue

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@sueinmn

Thank you for the wonderful day brightener! I'm wishing you continued improvement – it will be lovely being in your daughter's home where there will be more people to "practice" with. You are just inspiring Julie. And having you talk about the tinnitus being less, I will definitely be calling the audiologist for an appointment when I get home – it is worse now than it was in September, when she said I was about ready for an aid to help me.
Sue

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Good luck on the tinnitus. It used to really bother me at night in bed with no distractions. Bill has what they call musical tinnitus – he hears songs and instrumentals. He used to have me searching the whole house trying to figure out where the music was coming from! And couldn't believe that I couldn't hear it.

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@billchitwood

If this is okay to post I would like to share a Blog that I wrote which was just posted by AB. The picture just shows a part of our extended tribe, all who are determined to help me 'learn' to hear them.
https://www.advancedbionics.com/com/en/home/contact-us/blog/articles/youre-never-too-old-to-reclaim-your-hearing-chitwood.html

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3 Stars, Julie! This is a great article. Brava.

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