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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@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.

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Billchitwood Please go to a cochlear audiologist who works with your brand of hearing aid. They need to retest your hearing and make big adjustments to your processor! Don’t delay. Cochlear set ups are amazing, living without proper adjustment is terrible!

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@lizzy102

Billchitwood Please go to a cochlear audiologist who works with your brand of hearing aid. They need to retest your hearing and make big adjustments to your processor! Don’t delay. Cochlear set ups are amazing, living without proper adjustment is terrible!

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I have an appointment (Mayo) next Friday. Looks like we will switch to CI – at least one ear. Many thanks everyone.

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@julieo4

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.

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When I researched my Phonak hearing aid model on-line, I saw that they came with telecoil but at my final audiologist visit I wanted to verify it with her. To my surprise, she said that telecoil is an *option* with my HAs but **I needed to ask for it up front**. She acted like there aren't many venues around here using the technology, which may explain why she didn't mention it initially, but she also said I can exchange mine for the same Phonak HAs with telecoil and my trial period will be extended as well. I just want to echo what Julie said here – ask your audiologist!

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@christyj

When I researched my Phonak hearing aid model on-line, I saw that they came with telecoil but at my final audiologist visit I wanted to verify it with her. To my surprise, she said that telecoil is an *option* with my HAs but **I needed to ask for it up front**. She acted like there aren't many venues around here using the technology, which may explain why she didn't mention it initially, but she also said I can exchange mine for the same Phonak HAs with telecoil and my trial period will be extended as well. I just want to echo what Julie said here – ask your audiologist!

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That is amazing, alarming and very upsetting! Seriously, a patient is supposed to know what to ask for when getting a new hearing aid???? The audiologists are supposed to be the experts; the teachers, the counselors. They should know that we want to hear in every possible situation. "Communication Access' is our right. Very few of us use sign language, but if we asked for it they would have to provide it. Hard of hearing people who use hearing aids and cochlear implants get left out in the cold, but we have the same rights. Telling someone that venues in the area aren't using the technology is a close out. If they cared very deeply, they would be out there advocating for this kind of connectivity for their clientele.

Another side of this is the frustration we hear about when places install the necessary technology and wonder why people don't use it. But you have to know it's there to try it. You also have to know what it is and what it does. The telcoil in a hearing aid is the key to connecting to all of it. Sadly, stigmas about hearing loss also add to the confusion.

Here is a link that explains the 3 types of hearing assistive technology available to meet the mandates of the American's with Disabilities Act. https://www.hearingloss.org/hearing-help/technology/hat/ To connect your hearing aids to these systems, they must have telecoils. Unless you want to remove your hearing devices and put on a pair of headphones that connect to a receiver. If you're in a 'looped' venue, all you have to do is click the telecoil button on your personal hearing device and you are connected to the sound system. .

Keep in mind, that telecoils can also connect you to personal devices like computers, iPads, iPods, radios, etc.There are personal microphones one can use in noisy settings with telecoils. Problem is they show when you use them. Realistically, it shows that you are doing everything you can to hear and make conversation go smoothly. Telecoils can make a difference everywhere.

What part of the country do you live in? There are also a few websites that list the locations of installed hearing assistive technology. You may be surprised to learn about places in your area that have this tech.

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@julieo4

That is amazing, alarming and very upsetting! Seriously, a patient is supposed to know what to ask for when getting a new hearing aid???? The audiologists are supposed to be the experts; the teachers, the counselors. They should know that we want to hear in every possible situation. "Communication Access' is our right. Very few of us use sign language, but if we asked for it they would have to provide it. Hard of hearing people who use hearing aids and cochlear implants get left out in the cold, but we have the same rights. Telling someone that venues in the area aren't using the technology is a close out. If they cared very deeply, they would be out there advocating for this kind of connectivity for their clientele.

Another side of this is the frustration we hear about when places install the necessary technology and wonder why people don't use it. But you have to know it's there to try it. You also have to know what it is and what it does. The telcoil in a hearing aid is the key to connecting to all of it. Sadly, stigmas about hearing loss also add to the confusion.

Here is a link that explains the 3 types of hearing assistive technology available to meet the mandates of the American's with Disabilities Act. https://www.hearingloss.org/hearing-help/technology/hat/ To connect your hearing aids to these systems, they must have telecoils. Unless you want to remove your hearing devices and put on a pair of headphones that connect to a receiver. If you're in a 'looped' venue, all you have to do is click the telecoil button on your personal hearing device and you are connected to the sound system. .

Keep in mind, that telecoils can also connect you to personal devices like computers, iPads, iPods, radios, etc.There are personal microphones one can use in noisy settings with telecoils. Problem is they show when you use them. Realistically, it shows that you are doing everything you can to hear and make conversation go smoothly. Telecoils can make a difference everywhere.

What part of the country do you live in? There are also a few websites that list the locations of installed hearing assistive technology. You may be surprised to learn about places in your area that have this tech.

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Thanks for this, Julie, your passion shines through in this post and I appreciate all the details!! I live in the capital region of New York between Albany and Saratoga Springs.

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@julieo4

That is amazing, alarming and very upsetting! Seriously, a patient is supposed to know what to ask for when getting a new hearing aid???? The audiologists are supposed to be the experts; the teachers, the counselors. They should know that we want to hear in every possible situation. "Communication Access' is our right. Very few of us use sign language, but if we asked for it they would have to provide it. Hard of hearing people who use hearing aids and cochlear implants get left out in the cold, but we have the same rights. Telling someone that venues in the area aren't using the technology is a close out. If they cared very deeply, they would be out there advocating for this kind of connectivity for their clientele.

Another side of this is the frustration we hear about when places install the necessary technology and wonder why people don't use it. But you have to know it's there to try it. You also have to know what it is and what it does. The telcoil in a hearing aid is the key to connecting to all of it. Sadly, stigmas about hearing loss also add to the confusion.

Here is a link that explains the 3 types of hearing assistive technology available to meet the mandates of the American's with Disabilities Act. https://www.hearingloss.org/hearing-help/technology/hat/ To connect your hearing aids to these systems, they must have telecoils. Unless you want to remove your hearing devices and put on a pair of headphones that connect to a receiver. If you're in a 'looped' venue, all you have to do is click the telecoil button on your personal hearing device and you are connected to the sound system. .

Keep in mind, that telecoils can also connect you to personal devices like computers, iPads, iPods, radios, etc.There are personal microphones one can use in noisy settings with telecoils. Problem is they show when you use them. Realistically, it shows that you are doing everything you can to hear and make conversation go smoothly. Telecoils can make a difference everywhere.

What part of the country do you live in? There are also a few websites that list the locations of installed hearing assistive technology. You may be surprised to learn about places in your area that have this tech.

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Thank you,Julie, for saying everything I wanted to say after reading Christy’s post. Wow- the audacity of the audiologist’s response is terribly alarming. There are some states that have laws requiring AuDs to inform their patients about telecoils. Even if your community does not have many looped spaces, for anyone who travels, both through the US and Europe, hearing loops are everywhere, and awareness of their effectiveness is well know to many HOH people. I hope Christy’s AuD is reading this thread.

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@christyj

Thanks for this, Julie, your passion shines through in this post and I appreciate all the details!! I live in the capital region of New York between Albany and Saratoga Springs.

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ChristyJ, there is an HLAA chapter in Albany NY. You may want to connect with them. HLAA is the consumer organization that is making a difference for hard of hearing people through education, information sharing, advocacy and peer support. Everything I know about hearing loss has come from my being involved in this wonderful organization. Here is the chapter's website address: https://hearinglossalbany.wordpress.com/ Rochester and NYC also have very active chapters. Since most chapters are meeting on Zoom videoconferencing, at least part time, you can connect from anywhere if you know when the meetings are held. Lots of good info at: http://www.hearingloss.org

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@julieo4

ChristyJ, there is an HLAA chapter in Albany NY. You may want to connect with them. HLAA is the consumer organization that is making a difference for hard of hearing people through education, information sharing, advocacy and peer support. Everything I know about hearing loss has come from my being involved in this wonderful organization. Here is the chapter's website address: https://hearinglossalbany.wordpress.com/ Rochester and NYC also have very active chapters. Since most chapters are meeting on Zoom videoconferencing, at least part time, you can connect from anywhere if you know when the meetings are held. Lots of good info at: http://www.hearingloss.org

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Hi, Julie, yes, I already connected with the Albany chapter because of our earlier conversations, thank you! They do have Zoom meetings and I plan to attend some. 🙂

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@sueprichard

Thank you,Julie, for saying everything I wanted to say after reading Christy’s post. Wow- the audacity of the audiologist’s response is terribly alarming. There are some states that have laws requiring AuDs to inform their patients about telecoils. Even if your community does not have many looped spaces, for anyone who travels, both through the US and Europe, hearing loops are everywhere, and awareness of their effectiveness is well know to many HOH people. I hope Christy’s AuD is reading this thread.

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Thank you.It's really frustrating. In Wisconsin we have over 900 loop installations. There are also many venues that use FM or IR systems. Those systems also work with telecoils but require the use of a receiver and a neckloop, which those venues are required to provide.

HLAA Wisconsin has been advocating for a mandate that would require people who sell hearing aids to disclose, educate and demonstrate telecoils to people who purchase hearing aids from them. We have not been able to get such legislation passed. A few other states have managed to get this passed, so we will keep trying. The audiology profession fights this. They don't want to be told what to do. It just doesn't make sense.

The reality: Marketing denial and shame by the hearing industry by telling people that their hearing aids should be so small that no one knows they are being worn, means they promote the tiniest hearing aids. Those tiny aids don't have room for telcoils even though t-coils take up a very tiny bit of space within them. We all need to let the industry know that when we pay thousands of dollars for the hearing aids they manufacture and sell like consumer products, we want to be able to connect to hearing and life as best we possibly can.

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@julieo4

Thank you.It's really frustrating. In Wisconsin we have over 900 loop installations. There are also many venues that use FM or IR systems. Those systems also work with telecoils but require the use of a receiver and a neckloop, which those venues are required to provide.

HLAA Wisconsin has been advocating for a mandate that would require people who sell hearing aids to disclose, educate and demonstrate telecoils to people who purchase hearing aids from them. We have not been able to get such legislation passed. A few other states have managed to get this passed, so we will keep trying. The audiology profession fights this. They don't want to be told what to do. It just doesn't make sense.

The reality: Marketing denial and shame by the hearing industry by telling people that their hearing aids should be so small that no one knows they are being worn, means they promote the tiniest hearing aids. Those tiny aids don't have room for telcoils even though t-coils take up a very tiny bit of space within them. We all need to let the industry know that when we pay thousands of dollars for the hearing aids they manufacture and sell like consumer products, we want to be able to connect to hearing and life as best we possibly can.

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Wisconsin is such a powerful leader in loop installations! We're working really hard on it here in Eugene, Oregon, too, and are making good headway. We are increasing the numbers of installations, but more importantly, educating consumers about the benefits of telecoils, and pressing audiologists to encourage their patients to choose hearing aids with telecoils. You wouldn't knowingly buy a car without air conditioning, and you shouldn't knowingly buy hearing aids without telecoils.

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@sueprichard

Wisconsin is such a powerful leader in loop installations! We're working really hard on it here in Eugene, Oregon, too, and are making good headway. We are increasing the numbers of installations, but more importantly, educating consumers about the benefits of telecoils, and pressing audiologists to encourage their patients to choose hearing aids with telecoils. You wouldn't knowingly buy a car without air conditioning, and you shouldn't knowingly buy hearing aids without telecoils.

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You are right on the money! Congrats to Oregon for their work in this area. Yes, Wisconsin is a leader, but that is because HLAA has been active in Wisconsin since 1984, when the organization was still called Self Help for Hard of Hearing People (SHHH). We built our first hearing loop out of Radio Shack parts and used it for chapter meetings for years. We spent decades educating people and begging the hearing healthcare industry to buy into this technology. We still have trouble getting audiologists on board.

It's so upsetting to have new people attend our looped chapter meetings, only to discover their new $6000 hearing aids don't have telecoils. Further, they don't have a clue what telecoils even are. We keep a few receivers available so they can take off those expensive hearing aids and don Radio Shack headphones that plug into the receivers. People who sell hearing aids should be explaining this to their patients. At the very least those who buy hearing aids should know what they are trading off if they choose not to have them.

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@julieo4

You are right on the money! Congrats to Oregon for their work in this area. Yes, Wisconsin is a leader, but that is because HLAA has been active in Wisconsin since 1984, when the organization was still called Self Help for Hard of Hearing People (SHHH). We built our first hearing loop out of Radio Shack parts and used it for chapter meetings for years. We spent decades educating people and begging the hearing healthcare industry to buy into this technology. We still have trouble getting audiologists on board.

It's so upsetting to have new people attend our looped chapter meetings, only to discover their new $6000 hearing aids don't have telecoils. Further, they don't have a clue what telecoils even are. We keep a few receivers available so they can take off those expensive hearing aids and don Radio Shack headphones that plug into the receivers. People who sell hearing aids should be explaining this to their patients. At the very least those who buy hearing aids should know what they are trading off if they choose not to have them.

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I agree !!!

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