AUDIO: Age is not a barrier to having a cochlear implant fitted to treat hearing loss but only 8 per cent of adults who would benefit from an implant have one, a gerontology conference has heard.

While cochlear implants are well-known for providing hearing in children who are born deaf, the technology is increasingly being used to restore hearing in adults with acquired deafness, Associate Professor Catherine Birman told last week’s Australian Association of Gerontology conference.

Catherine Birman
Dr Catherine Birman

Dr Birman, who is medical director of the Sydney Cochlear Implant Centre (SCIC), said surgery was well-tolerated and speech outcomes were impressive in those aged over 70, many of whom were also successfully participating in follow up rehabilitation via telehealth.

However, more awareness was needed among this cohort on the benefits, which include reduced isolation, depression and progression of dementia, she said.

People who have hearing loss do not interact with those around them, including their GPs and carers in residential and community care, Dr Birman told Technology Review following her presentation.

Here, Dr Birman tells Natasha Egan about the suitability of cochlear implants for the elderly and how aged care service providers can help determine if their clients might benefit from one:

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1 Comment

  1. I didn’t realize that cochlear implants are being used more often with seniors. I think helping anybody to hear better is awesome. My grandfather’s hearing has been getting worse over the years. Would this be a difficult procedure to go through for the elderly?

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