10 Ways to Care for Older Adults and Cochlear Implants
If you’re talking about older adults and cochlear implants, we understand that it can often be difficult to know the best ways to help them out.
Sometimes they say they don’t need help, sometimes they think they don’t need help, and sometimes they really don’t need help. Everybody’s different, but in general there are a few things that you can do to make sure they enjoy hearing throughout the day.
Communication is Key
Talking is one of the best ways to keep an older adult active and involved with their life, and this is especially true for someone with a hearing implant. Try talking with recipients whenever you have the opportunity and involving them with groups where he or she can communicate with others.
There are many ways to help make sure that you can communicate effectively:
- Get the recipient’s attention before you start talking
- Make sure that you reduce background noise as much as possible
- Ensure that the recipient can clearly see your face and mouth
- Speak slowly, and do not shout even if they seem to not understand you
- Be cheerful. Good feelings can be infectious!
Caring for CI Equipment
Because each recipient should wear their audio processor daily, setting up a daily routine will help them to maintain a high quality of hearing and life.
- A good morning routine would be putting on glasses (if used), dentures (if used), and finally the audio processor. Recipients may be able to do this on their own, but it can be nice to help and ensure that the processor is turned on and has enough battery power.
- Ensure that each recipient is wearing their processor during all waking hours. This is especially important for those with dementia who might be prone to removing their processor and resist wearing it.
- When battery changes are necessary, it’s a nice idea to help each recipient with replacing them.
- In the evening, make sure that the audio processor is switched off and safely stored in a designated storage place so that it can be easily found the next morning.
In addition to this daily care, routine checkups can make sure that each recipient’s device is properly functioning, so that they are able to use it to the best of their abilities. The external device, called the audio processor, is the one that most people mean when they refer to their “cochlear implant”.
But how can you make sure it’s functioning?
- Assist a recipient in cleaning their audio processor regularly to help keep it free of any dust or moisture that might cover the microphone(s). Remember, these microphones are located in different positions depending on the processor so learning about the specific processor is always a good idea.
- Before a recipient goes to sleep, make sure that their processor is safely set aside. If the recipient has a drying kit, using it on a nightly basis will help to ensure that the processor stays dry.
- On laundry day, make sure that the processor is not tossed in with the bed linens or clothing. The easiest way to do this is checking if the recipient is wearing their processor or has placed it in a designated storage location like their bedside table or drying kit.
- The audio processor contains a magnet that can inadvertently attract itself to many different metal objects. If someone’s processor goes missing, start by checking around the bed, lamps, or other metal objects that the processor magnet might have stuck to.
- If the recipient has a sudden change in mood or attentively, contacting a specialist like an audiologist is a good way to make sure that the processor and implant are both functioning properly.
- Familiarize yourself with the audio processor, including how to turn it off and on as well as adjusting settings. To learn more, you can watch this series of videos about how the RONDO audio processor works, and this series of videos about how the OPUS 2 audio processor works.
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