When to Opt For Cochlear Implants As A Deaf or HOH Adult

Irisada is an online platform dedicated to solutions for differently abled people. We also strive to build awareness in our communities and encourage discussion. Previous articles on hearing loss have been aimed at (hearing) parents of hard of hearing and deaf children. Articles have included: diagnosis, choosing a language to communicate in (part I and part II), keeping devices on kids, sports and activities and cochlear implants on children.

After doing a piece on the tough decision parents face when deciding whether or not to go forward with CI surgery, we wanted to take some time to address the same question for adults. So we spoke with Celeste Torres from Costa Rica, who got her cochlear implants aged 22, and Naama Tsach, PhD, from the American Cochlear Implant Alliance. We asked them about their experience with CI.

When is a Time to Consider CIs?

If you’ve come to this article, you probably have reason to believe CIs are the next step for you. Either because your hearing aids just aren’t strong enough or because you want to experience the hearing world as close as possible to a hearing person. If it’s getting harder and harder to partake in social events and you can’t hear your family in intimate settings, then maybe you’re considering cochlear implants.

As you discuss this with your doctors, you’ll want to ask about success rates in relation to your type of hearing loss and your geographical area, operation risks, (we mentioned some of them here), insurance and how long you’ll need to be operational at work again.

I’m About To Buy the Most Powerful Hearing Aid on the Market

In that case, Naama advises also checking if you are eligible for CI. She says some patients are continually readjusting hearing aids, which can be very frustrating, without realising that a more powerful option is available to them.

 Also, as technology evolves, people who didn’t qualify a couple of years ago might now be eligible. “If you were rejected from being approved as a CI candidate two years ago, you may find out that today you would be a perfect candidate”, she says.

Many people decide to get CIs to better interact with their families (photo credit: Pixabay)

Does Late Implantation Mean I will not be able to Benefit from CIs? 

Absolutely not, though there are different types of cases. For adults who were born deaf, or lost their hearing at a young age, the experience will be different than adults who lost their hearing later on in life.

Celeste was not implanted as a child, because the technology wasn’t adapted to her condition at the time. Aged 19, she found out she was eligible and started considering the operation.  “I met other people, kids and adults, having success with their implants, and the idea of having one began to take root,” she says. Since the implant, her ability to interact with the hearing world has considerably improved.

How Long Will I Take to Adapt to My Implants and How Much Auditory Rehabilitation Will I need?

It all depends. People who lost their hearing later in life will learn how to use their cochlear implants faster. “People who used to hear before, have a large amount of spontaneous auditory learning based on their previous auditory experience,” says Naama. She stresses that they won’t recover “normal hearing” like they had before the implants but in general they will benefit from significantly improved hearing.

It’s important to go in knowing this, so as to not be disappointed by unrealistically high expectations. Rather, “they will be able to get sufficient auditory skills to have good communication in everyday life and to enjoy hearing.” Overall, she underlines how relieved these people are to recover their natural communication methods and hear again.

Others, like Celeste, who had pre-lingual deafness, get best results with more intensive and individualised auditory training, usually provided by Speech and Language Therapist.  A few years on, Celeste has completely changed her relationship to music and language. She’s taking singing lessons and is learning several languages besides her native Spanish.

All this, thanks to very intensive therapy: three sessions per week during the first two months following implantation, then two sessions per week for the next six months. “Besides therapy, I listened to many audiobooks in Spanish and English alongside with their written versions,” she says. “At that time, it was hard to find any apps or computer programs in Spanish, so I had the help from my family to do hearing exercises, like differentiating vowels, Ling sounds, understanding long phrases, etc.”

Naama’s blog is a great source of information for anyone looking to understand (and practice) post-operation rehabilitation. She is a staunch believer in the importance of auditory rehabilitation for all patients.

CIs can improve people’s work conditions and career prospects (Photo credit: Pixabay)

What About My Residual Hearing?

The answer used to be simple: in almost every case, people with residual hearing would lose it when they moved to CIs. This is not necessarily the case anymore. The internal device and surgical techniques have changed, and today, many patients retain a significant amount of residual hearing. Ask your specialist what your specific operation will mean.

Celeste didn’t have a choice, she knew she would lose her residual hearing, but she still decided to go through with the operation. She still thought having CIs would give her the best quality of life. However, many people no longer have to sacrifice their residual hearing when opting for CIs.

How Should I Choose Which Brand of CIs to Wear?

The first point Naama makes is that “all of the CI devices provide excellent benefits.” She adds that “there are some differences in terms of features, and sometimes there may be a medical reason to get one over another so your physician will advise on that.”

In some cases, depending on where you live and what clinic you go to, you may not have a choice. We can only advise you to get several medical opinions and meet others who have been implanted before.

If you do have a choice, consider different features: syncing with phones, water safe processors, upgradability, which ones work best with your lifestyle. You’ll find lots of information on the CI manufacturors’ sites (though presented with a sales pitch), as well as different comparison charts (like this one from Cochlear Implant Help, and this one geared at parents of eligible children).

We hope this article has helped you through some of the questions in your decision process. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to these incredibly complex medical situations, and we hope you’ll find what suits you best.

Additional Links

Disclaimer: these blog posts are intended as exploratory articles. They do not constitute medical advice and cannot replace a medical opinion.

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Independent Home Living Ideas for Your Elderly Loved Ones

Welcome to Irisada’s blog. We focus on solutions for families living with differently abled – loved ones so they can live life to the fullest.

As our family members age, their needs can change. To help them live life to the fullest, small adaptations to their everyday surroundings can go a long way. As we recently discussed activities for independent senior citizens, today we’ll be talking about how to adapt their physical and digital surrounding to their needs.

Adapting Their Physical Surroundings

Some doctors estimate that every year, one in three senior citizens suffers a fall at home. Not only can these falls be dangerous, they are avoidable. First, you’ll want to make sure to limit risks of tripping over wires, furniture and clutter, or having to reach too high in cupboards.

Specialists also advise making sure there is enough bright lighting, as darker places, especially stairs, can become dangerous. An 85-year old typically needs three times more light to see the same thing as a 15-year old, so don’t be afraid to deck the house with lights!

Making Bathrooms Secure And Everyday Hygiene Easy

If your older family member has mobility issues, you might want to adapt some of the rooms. Bathrooms tend to be especially tricky. Simply adding grab bars or a shower seat will make their daily routine safer and more relaxed.

You can go even further by making sure the shower enclosure is easy to access (no step, for example) or considering installing a wet floor shower. Since floors are sometimes slippery, nonslip mats or treating the floor with a nonslip solution can make bathrooms (and also kitchens and porches) less risky.

An example of an accessible bathroom. Photo credit: Walk in Showers and Baths Ltd, UK

For caregivers of elderly with very reduced mobility, consider investing in accessories that allow them to avoid the bathroom entirely. For example, an inflatable hair washbasin could be a good place to start. Your loved one will get all the benefits and freshness of a hair wash, without the inconvenience of being transferred to the bathroom.

Last but not least: toilet seats. Getting up and off the toilet can be tricky, which is why it’s advisable to have a higher toilet seat with armrests. You’ll probably want professional help for those kinds of installations.

Other Solutions For Everyday Inconveniences Around the House

Steps and stairs get increasingly awkward. Perhaps your elder could benefit from adding ramps in places where there are steps. You can also install a stairlift or additional railings to stairs in the house, depending on space and feasibility.

But if mobility is a real problem, maybe living on one floor would be safer and allow your loved one to stay independent longer. And though many people dislike the idea of using a walker, having one handy at home can help move around all day with minimal risk.

Many elderly people find getting up and out of bed (or a chair) harder. You can install railings and hoists or ropes to beds to help solve morning issues and buy rising or reclining chairs for the living room. Or if rising chairs are too much of an investment, consider rising assist cushions.

An example of seating assistance in action. The portable pillow cushions the fall when sitting down and assists the lift when standing back up. (Photo credit: Carex)

Last but not least, quite a few personal care products have been adapted for older citizens: nail clippers with magnifiers, zipper aids, shoe and sock aids, to name a few. Don’t forget small adaptations can go a long way, like clocks with bigger numbers, or vibrating alarms for those who are hard of hearing.

Using Technology to Stay Safe and Enjoy Life

Not all adaptations are physical: everyday technology can come in handy since many of today’s elderly people are connected. In fact, some of them actually still have a thirst for technology. And that’s great, first and foremost to stay in touch, as avoiding social isolation is vital to stay psychologically healthy. Simply installing and explaining Skype, Facebook or Whatsapp could make a big difference.

Some of our favourite apps come connected to physical objects, like this app that comes with the Smart Pill Box and keeps track of medication.  Other great apps include Fall Detector, which has a self-explanatory name, and Sudoku or game apps.  We like them because they encompass three aspects of life: keeping track of health, alerting loved ones if something happens, and of course, having fun. 

We hope this article helps with adapting your loved ones home and phone! Remember to send us your comments and suggestions.

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Product Review: ReSound Enzo 3D Hearing Aids

Irisada is an online platform dedicated to solutions for differently abled people. We also strive to build awareness in our communities and encourage discussion. Our product reviews are typically done by actual users that are not affiliated to or sponsored by the brand (unless specified). Sometimes we might include sponsored links or links to our site if we carry the product. We hope our honest reviews help you in your daily lives.

The following article was first found on a blog called Apocalypse Later by Alvan Yap on 1 May 2018. Alvan was sponsored by ReSound to try out this product.

The ReSound Multi Mic has a whole lot of gee-whiz electronics in there and different modes for telecoils, for FM transmitters, for audio jack inputs and so on.

But you only need to know this: If and when I ask you to clip it onto your shirt or wear it around your neck (it comes with a tiny lanyard), please do.

The device weighs maybe 20 grams and is about the size of a largish thumb. (You may look like a dork with it clipped or hung upon your flawless outfit, and that’s your problem.) It also helps me hear and understand you better, especially in noisy places, in big rooms or at open spaces. Because I can then turn off the microphones in my hearing aids and boost the noise-to-signal ratio (or is it signal-to-noise?). During conversations, I don’t need to hear everything; I only need to hear you.

And as every hearing aid user will tell you (and no matter what manufacturers say about giving us super hearing), background noise remains our kryptonite.

Thanks to ReSound Singapore for the sponsorship!

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