CI Learning Curve for Elderly

It’s some what common knowledge that the younger you are the better results you might have with a CI. I’ve also read that learning curve or maybe a better work is “adjusting period” speeds up for younger candidates versus older candidates. Yet it would seem the far majority of people who require a CI or who are thinking of getting one are classified as the “older generation”. Just saying far more people have serious hearing issues later in life versus younger generations, yet it almost appears as if CI are best suited for those under sixty five.

Now I understand medical science claims there’s no specific cut off age range for CI surgery.
And there have been people who have received CI in there late 80’s, 90’s and possibly beyond. All good if CI patients came out better than before they started their CI journey. Yet it’s a fact that many older folks can’t adapt to a CI due to age related issues. Some of those issues might be related to cognitive brain decline that impacts many people in their later years.

It would be nice if medial science came out with studies for CI candidates over age 65 that,

  • Could adapt to a CI after “X” amount of time (percentage wise)
  • Couldn’t adapt to a CI after “X” amount of time (percentage wise)

Personally I don’t think medical science addresses old age and the success rates of CI in a clear and straight forward manner. Maybe there’s just too many other factors to consider, but I’m well aware that many elderly people who have taken the CI jump ended up getting below average result, or results that were less than their expectations. And here I’m talking people in their 70’s and 80’s - plus. And not someone under 65 years old.

My understanding is someone has to really work (mentally) to adjust to a CI over a long period of time. With that said, I’d really like to see some medical studies on the success/failure rate for those say 70 years and older who chose to have a CI. Maybe after reading such studies I’d be surprised to learn there were more “thumbs up versus down”.


Yes, an UN-biased study of CI wearers over 65 would be enlightening … but I wonder if the FUNDER of such a study could be found. Would have to be someone NOT getting a grant or any “donation” from CI manufacturer; definitely NOT a CI manufacturer funding this. In other words, there should be no incentive for the study to favor an outcome (like ANYONE of ANY AGE does better with CI - and here’s the proof!) cuz then it defeats the purpose of who really benefits from these devices.

I don’t wear a CI, but I can appreciate how as folks age, our brains don’t work as fast, we don’t learn as fast, we may not even retain as much. Our phenomenal long-term memory is of no use when it comes to adapting to a new technology.

On top of which you point out that if folks have gone without any hearing help till they’re way past 65, they may have already chipped away at the gray cells in the brain … making things even more of a challenge.

While we’re at it, how about all the new cell phones, the apps that run on them, the dexterity to press buttons just so on phones and aids? All these things are going to be tougher the older we get. I’m SO lucky I was fit with aids in my early 30s. I took to them like a duck to water! Back then, there was no internet, no cell phone, no apps to download, not even a phone that was HA compatible with a volume control.

Caveman days. Almost 40 yrs ago.


I am nearly 91 and am getting a CI in next couple of months. I have done extensive research about age and find no data or cases where am should not go forward. I agree that the downtime to adapt may be an issue but I have on ear that is acceptable with my good Starkey 2400AI.


I was 68 when I got my CI… I haven’t had any problems adapting to the “new” way of hearing. I understood some speech on activation day, I did hours upon hours of rehab, which has truly been very worthwhile in getting such a good outcome for myself. While I’m riddled with RA, I’ve been blessed it hasn’t affected my dexterity at all as yet.

The problem I have is with the technology required for the CI. Remembering I went to school in the days of slate boards and chalk, that’s how I learnt to write. Computers just didn’t exist in my 13 years of school and education. Nor did the exist when I did my Nurse training in a hospital. I would rather sit s patients butt on a bedpan than try to pair my 3 devices.

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I agree with you. I was 70 when I got my CI. Not tech savvy. I should have been evaluated prior to see if I could handle all the technology.I thought all I had to do was wear it and I did 12hrsdayx7days. I am one of the failures . After 3 yrs my word understanding is in the 17%.I agree with DeafPiper. When I went to college for my Nursing degree we did not utilize all the technology it was nonexistant Even at the hospital everything was hands on. This eval should be mandatory for anyone getting a CI. I am sure no one has or will do any studies regarding age and success rate. CI are a big ticket item for the Dr as well as the Company.


Agree. I am bilateral, got my first CI in 2011 when I was 64 and the second in 2022 at 75. The results are quite different for the 2 ears, although by following the strategy I learned from deaf_piper (really working at rehab over a longer time), there’s improvement in ear 2. I’m guessing that my cochlea is just more deteriorated from age. Regardless, more knowledge is always good, maybe it would help people tailor their rehab, have better expectations, etc


I’m a 74 year old diabetic getting a CI at Mayo clinic in Phoenix. Very easy to qualify and everything moves at a rapid pace. I started the process 4 weeks ago with preop next week and surgery a week later. They do try to manage expectations but it’s hard not to get excited about regaining my lost hearing. We decided on the N8 paired with resound ha.


As @kathykillea04 said I hope your smart phone or IT knowledge is good. I struggle with IT it’s definitely not a strong point of mine. Thankfully the Cochlear clinic are understanding of my lack of IT.

@kemyers04 If it’s not good and you have children get them to help you now. Start learning before the surgery. I can’t even pair my processor to my phone.

The group are here to offer advice if you get stuck. Start a new page for your journey so we can all travel with you. Come back and let us know how you’re going.

Good luck on your new hearing journey.


I’m coming up to the one year anniversary of the CI implant. I’m 75 and have had no problems learning to hear with the implant or use the technology. At one month I went from 37% word recognition to 100% with my CI plus HA. (I know that isn’t typical!)

All people adjust to change differently. Each CI recipient has a different medical situation. how well you do doesn’t always have anything to do with physical age.

Sure, a study might be a good idea. It might be particularly helpful to compare how well the 3 brands help people at different ages. One technology may help us old folks more than another.