I was almost deaf when I received a cochlear implant (CI) at age 82. The results were astounding. No longer was I isolated in a near-silent world. I could once again hear birds sing and creeks gurgle. I could converse easily with my wife, talk on the phone, attend meetings, and converse at family get-togethers. I stopped faking laughter at jokes I couldn’t hear. Friends were amazed that I so easily joined in discussions.

Hearing loss is not uncommon. More than 50 million Americans have hearing loss, including one out of eight children and teens, and one-third of those over 65. Sixty percent of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan have hearing loss: it is the most common war injury.

"How many people need a cochlear implant but have no idea what it is, let alone how to get one?"

Never too old

Most suffer in silence. I was one of the lucky ones: I did something about my hearing loss.

People show interest in my CI. They ask me what it is and want to know how it works. Some with hearing aids say theirs do little and they want a better solution.

This made me wonder: How many people need a cochlear implant but have no idea what it is, let alone how to get one? How can these people be reached? A partial answer came when my audiologist asked me to answer questions from a patient considering a CI. I could do that.

Spreading the word

I had kept extensive notes about my experiences and feelings while getting my cochlear implant. The American Cochlear Implant Alliance (ACIA) thought this would be of interest to others, and is now publishing my memoirs serially as a blog on their website.

I’ve also met with others of all ages who have questions about hearing, hearing aids or cochlear implants. Local groups, such as the Lions Club, have asked me to talk to them. I’ve put a note about my CI on my college class’s website with a link to the ACIA blog. The ACIA has also asked me to write a brief note for their e-magazine, “Calling.”

What else can I do? Well, our local county has an adult education program. Anyone can suggest a class on a topic they want to teach. We’ve had classes on everything from fly-fishing to geology to conversational Spanish. The spring term is coming up soon. It’s about time there was a class on hearing, hearing loss, and cochlear implants. You’re never too old to learn about cochlear implants.

For more information and similar articles, check out the ACIA’s blog.