When you think about a traumatic brain injury (TBI), your first thought is probably a sports-related accident, such as a football player crashing head-first into a rival, or possibly a head-on collision in a car accident – something less likely to affect seniors. Nevertheless, the prevalence of traumatic brain injuries in the elderly is far more common than you may think. In fact, among the leading causes behind TBIs is falls – which we all know are also one of the primary factors behind serious injury in older adults.
Traumatic brain injuries are defined as mild, moderate, or severe, according to various criteria: whether or not the individual who sustained the injury was rendered unconscious, and if so, how long their state of unconsciousness continued, combined with the degree of symptom severity. No matter what the classification, a TBI might have enduring and significant effects on older adults. Symptoms range from one person to another, but can include any or all of the following:
- Confusion, disorientation, or the inability to remember the events associated with the injury
- Problems with remembering new information and/or with speaking coherently
- Headache and/or dizziness
- Blurred vision
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- A ringing sound in the ears
- Emotional and/or sleep disturbances
In a mild TBI, or concussion, the senior normally maintains a state of consciousness, or if unconsciousness is experienced, it’s no more than half an hour in duration. A moderate TBI is diagnosed when unconsciousness lasts more than half an hour but less than twenty-four hours, while a severe TBI results from more than twenty-four hours of unconsciousness. Symptoms are generally similar regardless of the level of injury, but are more severe and last longer as the severity also increases.
With as many as 775,000 current senior TBI survivors, it is highly recommended to take steps now to make sure the senior loved one in your life stay safe, especially from falls. These preventative measures will help:
- Assess the house environment and address any fall hazards such as throw rugs, electrical cords, any clutter or furniture obstructing walking paths, and inadequate lighting.
- Be certain that older adults utilize a cane or walker at all times when recommended by the doctor, to compensate for any muscular or balance insufficiencies.
- Speak to the doctor about any potential medication side effects that could bring about dizziness or drowsiness, each of which increase fall risk.
- Make sure seniors receive at least annual eye exams and that corrective lenses are always worn when prescribed.
Absolute Companion Care can help in a variety of ways, from in-home safety assessments to stop falls, to highly customized care for those dealing with the difficulties of a TBI or any other condition. Call us at 410-357-9640 for a free in-home assessment and to discover more about how our high-quality elder care in Towson, MD is helping older adults live life to the fullest, every single day.