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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@julieo4

I too am reluctant to take unnecessary drugs. Not sure what to tell you. The anti nausea patch is a preventative. I took it when having another surgery on request and had no nausea. This advice was given to me pre CI. I took it and had absolutely no nausea. The strongest drug I took after surgery was Tylenol. Talk to your surgeon about this.

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Thank you. I'll do that.

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@imallears

@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

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I think I'm allergic to the Phonak HAs – I keep getting dermatitis, which in turns makes the HAs not work that well. Yikes. Mayo was supposed to set an appointment for surgery but I haven't heard back other than to be told the information was given to the surgeon's nurse. He was concerned that I'm on the border line of a CI helping – but I'm having so many problems with the HAs that they are driving me nuts. Even the phone streaming isn't working well – I started the hydrocortisone cream again a few days ago so dermatitis better, which means today the HAs are actually better. But they advise not using that constantly and as soon as I stop the dermatitis is back in both ears. I never had a problem with old HAs. Just with the new ones.

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@billchitwood

I think I'm allergic to the Phonak HAs – I keep getting dermatitis, which in turns makes the HAs not work that well. Yikes. Mayo was supposed to set an appointment for surgery but I haven't heard back other than to be told the information was given to the surgeon's nurse. He was concerned that I'm on the border line of a CI helping – but I'm having so many problems with the HAs that they are driving me nuts. Even the phone streaming isn't working well – I started the hydrocortisone cream again a few days ago so dermatitis better, which means today the HAs are actually better. But they advise not using that constantly and as soon as I stop the dermatitis is back in both ears. I never had a problem with old HAs. Just with the new ones.

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@billchitwood
Hi
It sounds like you are allergic to the molds or domes not the hard part of the hearing aid itself so it’s not that you are allergic to Phonaks. Am I understanding that correctly?

I have dry ears and use mineral oil, on the advice of my ENT, and it helps a lot with any itching or dermatitis .I use it whenever I feel it is necessary and put a few drops in the canals at night from time to time. It acts like a moisturizer. I can understand why ear canals get infected and red with dermatitis….ears are plugged up all day with no ventilation.
Some people suffer more than others and the irritation can extend outward to the lobe. It’s one of the downsides of wearing BTEs.

FL Mary

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@imallears

@billchitwood
Hi
It sounds like you are allergic to the molds or domes not the hard part of the hearing aid itself so it’s not that you are allergic to Phonaks. Am I understanding that correctly?

I have dry ears and use mineral oil, on the advice of my ENT, and it helps a lot with any itching or dermatitis .I use it whenever I feel it is necessary and put a few drops in the canals at night from time to time. It acts like a moisturizer. I can understand why ear canals get infected and red with dermatitis….ears are plugged up all day with no ventilation.
Some people suffer more than others and the irritation can extend outward to the lobe. It’s one of the downsides of wearing BTEs.

FL Mary

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I'm guessing the molds – I have used mineral oil for helping prevent wax build-up, which I tend to get in right ear (the one they want to do the CI). The dermatitis causes a clear fluid to flow, causing a crust build-up in the outer ear come morning. If I use the hyrocortisone cream that will clear it up within a few days (calls for 7 days). When I finish the 7 days very shortly thereafter the dermatitis is back!

Once again I've asked for the CI to be scheduled – the right ear wouldn't have the HA inserted and I think they could use a hypoallergic material on the left side – or hope so. Today I can hear as day 4 of hyrocortisone treatment. From what I've read this isn't a long term, every day, solution?

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Not new to hearing loss but contemplating a cochlear implant. I’m struggling mentally with moving forward. First I see a CI as the “final option” in my hearing loss journey. I’m 65 and been struggling and wearing hearing aids for 25 years. What if it doesn’t work? What are my options then? It’s my understanding that I would essentially be deaf and frankly, that scares me. Do I continue to seriously struggle or take the plunge? My rational mind tells me my concerns are overblown. Any insight would be greatly appreciated.

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@cmkellner23

Not new to hearing loss but contemplating a cochlear implant. I’m struggling mentally with moving forward. First I see a CI as the “final option” in my hearing loss journey. I’m 65 and been struggling and wearing hearing aids for 25 years. What if it doesn’t work? What are my options then? It’s my understanding that I would essentially be deaf and frankly, that scares me. Do I continue to seriously struggle or take the plunge? My rational mind tells me my concerns are overblown. Any insight would be greatly appreciated.

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cmkellner23 – Fortunately, I think your worries are needless. I used a hearing aid until my hearing went down too far and in 12/2018, got a CI. (My other ear became deaf earlier.) If my CI didn't work, I had more to lose, since I did not have another hearing ear. And yes, before the surgery, I worried as you are doing about the results. I think the sooner you get a CI the better. Rather than see the CI as your last option, I would see it as a potentially exciting option which it turned out to be for me. You do have 2 ears don't you? So you would get 1 CI at a time. Why not consult with a neurosurgeon and discuss your concerns and questions? (I did that.) I probably did that about 3 times before I was ready to leap!

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@barbb

cmkellner23 – Fortunately, I think your worries are needless. I used a hearing aid until my hearing went down too far and in 12/2018, got a CI. (My other ear became deaf earlier.) If my CI didn't work, I had more to lose, since I did not have another hearing ear. And yes, before the surgery, I worried as you are doing about the results. I think the sooner you get a CI the better. Rather than see the CI as your last option, I would see it as a potentially exciting option which it turned out to be for me. You do have 2 ears don't you? So you would get 1 CI at a time. Why not consult with a neurosurgeon and discuss your concerns and questions? (I did that.) I probably did that about 3 times before I was ready to leap!

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Thanks. I appreciate your perspective and support. Unfortunately I too am totally deaf in my right ear. However, I really am frustrated with my hearing right now and feel like I’m missing so much. I know the CI is the way to go. I just have to get up the nerve. I am speaking to the ent dr who would perform the surgery next week. I truly do appreciate your support.

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@cmkellner23

Thanks. I appreciate your perspective and support. Unfortunately I too am totally deaf in my right ear. However, I really am frustrated with my hearing right now and feel like I’m missing so much. I know the CI is the way to go. I just have to get up the nerve. I am speaking to the ent dr who would perform the surgery next week. I truly do appreciate your support.

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I have had a CI since 2005. IT was the best decision I could have made. I'm chiming in here to say that I had the CI done in the ear I had very little residual hearing in. I chose to do that rather than 'disturb' the ear I heard a bit better out of. Like many others, I had been told years ago that my auditory nerve was non functional. CIs have proven that not to be the case as the damage is in the cochlea. Because of that damage, the cells in the cochlea cannot transmit sound to the auditory nerve. The CI bypasses the cochlea and stimulates the auditory nerve, which is just sitting there waiting for sound it doesn't receive. It does take a while for that nerve to start managing the sound so the brain can interpret it.

I'm mentioning this because you say you have one ear that doesn't hear. That might be the ear to have the CI done on. Do discuss this with the surgeon.

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My understanding is they try to pick the worse ear to do the implant in unless there is a reason it wouldn't work on that ear. If the ear has little hearing left it is almost 'what do I have to lose!' as you will still have a hearing aid in the 'good/better' ear? My right ear is my 'worse' and that is the one the surgeon is considering for the implant. At the moment the HAs seem to help half the time or less. Last night son and DIL were over and they had to almost shout into my ear for me to hear. HAs were almost useless although had been helping earlier in the day with just husband around (although he was hard to understand as slurring words now) – but he was loud enough. Frustrating. It is a scary decision and prayers your way.

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@billchitwood

My understanding is they try to pick the worse ear to do the implant in unless there is a reason it wouldn't work on that ear. If the ear has little hearing left it is almost 'what do I have to lose!' as you will still have a hearing aid in the 'good/better' ear? My right ear is my 'worse' and that is the one the surgeon is considering for the implant. At the moment the HAs seem to help half the time or less. Last night son and DIL were over and they had to almost shout into my ear for me to hear. HAs were almost useless although had been helping earlier in the day with just husband around (although he was hard to understand as slurring words now) – but he was loud enough. Frustrating. It is a scary decision and prayers your way.

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One thing that has truly amazed me in my situation is the way my brain has acclimated to being bimodal; using both technologies. I find that if I remove the hearing aid, the CI doesn't do as well. If I remove the CI processor, the HA doesn't do well at all. I need both technologies up and running for the best results. I also am totally deaf when not using either of them. When I use only the HA I can hear sounds, but cannot understand speech. With just the CI processor, I can understand speech IF I work at it and adjust the controls a bit. It seems that the HA provides depth and volume.

My message here is that the brain is most often capable of adjusting to this new way of hearing if the person will take time to work at it.

NO question. Hearing loss is extremely frustrating. Good luck with your decision.

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I just received a notice from Mayo that it looks like I'm a go for CI surgery on November 12th. Indicated they would be setting me up for some preop tests plus the dreaded nasal Covid-19 test. Mouth is so much easier and less 'ouchy' than the nasal.

Does anyone have an idea what the pre operation tests will be? I had the CT done a few weeks ago – and to the amazement of family passed as I do have a brain lol. Doubts were raised when, as a child, I was found hugging and petting a mountain lion (hey, a big kitty in a cage) and swinging up onto the back of a wild black stallion (they never could figure why he let me get that close to him). Hey, my favorite book was The Black Stallion! So maybe their skepticism on the 'brain' part was partially justified.

Just filled up the panty, freezer and refrigerator. And increased the stock of Lady Gray's Temptations. That kitty probably keeps that company in the 'Black'.

I'm so excited as well as terrified and nervous. I know I'm going to have a lot of learning and adjusting in front of me but at least it gives me hope. I so want to hear latest grandson, who is almost ready to talk, to say 'Grams'!

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@billchitwood

I just received a notice from Mayo that it looks like I'm a go for CI surgery on November 12th. Indicated they would be setting me up for some preop tests plus the dreaded nasal Covid-19 test. Mouth is so much easier and less 'ouchy' than the nasal.

Does anyone have an idea what the pre operation tests will be? I had the CT done a few weeks ago – and to the amazement of family passed as I do have a brain lol. Doubts were raised when, as a child, I was found hugging and petting a mountain lion (hey, a big kitty in a cage) and swinging up onto the back of a wild black stallion (they never could figure why he let me get that close to him). Hey, my favorite book was The Black Stallion! So maybe their skepticism on the 'brain' part was partially justified.

Just filled up the panty, freezer and refrigerator. And increased the stock of Lady Gray's Temptations. That kitty probably keeps that company in the 'Black'.

I'm so excited as well as terrified and nervous. I know I'm going to have a lot of learning and adjusting in front of me but at least it gives me hope. I so want to hear latest grandson, who is almost ready to talk, to say 'Grams'!

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Busy day as scheduling has started. Tomorrow I get a phone visit with Mayo. I'm supposed to have a list of all prescriptions (don't take any so that is easy) and vitamins, etc (I do take a couple of those like D3; calcium plus D). And a list of doctors, tests, surgeries in the past 3 years (had tear duct surgery in 2019) – trying to gather all those records is a pain. Then on the 10th I have a pre op visit of about 90 minutes and they decide if they want any more tests run. Plus I have to have the 'ouchy' nasal Covid-19 test.

They also set me up for post op visit and activation and programing. Looks like I will be very busy for the rest of November and into the beginning of January at least. I'm going to have to actually visit gas stations more then my every six month schedule (as you can tell I'm not into driving much).

Mayo is being very helpful and nice about answering all my questions. They obviously have a very efficient system setup. But getting out of the house by 4:30AM on the 12th is going to take some doing. Poor daughter Robin! Take a day off to spending it in waiting rooms and driving in the middle of the night.

One interesting thing in the instructions is not to let anyone shave my head unless the doctor okays it. Gather the razor can cause infections. So looks like I won't have a bald spot! No washing hair for a week. And I get to be lazy for a few days after the surgery (I'm so good at that). Then in about two weeks after the surgery (Dec 1) I get activated if all goes well.

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