When you think of a traumatic brain injury (TBI), your initial thought might be a sports-related accident, such as a football player crashing head-first into a rival, or perhaps a head-on collision in a car accident – something less likely to impact seniors. Yet the prevalence of traumatic brain injuries in senior citizens is far more common than you may assume. In fact, among the leading reasons behind TBIs is falls – which we all know are also one of several leading causes of serious injury in older adults.
Traumatic brain injury is defined as mild, moderate, or severe, based on various criteria: whether or not the individual who incurred the injury was rendered unconscious, and if so, how long the state of unconsciousness lasted, along with the degree of symptom severity.
Regardless of classification, a TBI can have enduring and considerable effects on older adults. Symptoms range from one person to another, but can sometimes include any or all of the following:
- Confusion, disorientation, and the inability to remember the events associated with the injury
- Issues 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 disruptions
In a mild TBI, or concussion, the senior typically retains a state of consciousness, or if unconsciousness is experienced, it’s less than 30 minutes in duration. A moderate TBI is diagnosed when unconsciousness lasts longer than 30 minutes but under 24 hours, while a severe TBI results from more than a day of unconsciousness. Symptoms are typically the same regardless of the level of injury; however, they are more serious and last for a longer time while the severity also increases.
With nearly 775,000 current senior TBI survivors, it’s necessary to take the appropriate steps now to ensure your loved ones remain safe, in particular from falls. These preventative measures can help:
- Assess the home environment and remove any fall hazards such as throw rugs, extension cords, any clutter or furniture blocking walking paths, and inadequate lighting.
- Make sure that older adults take advantage of a cane or walker at all times when advised by the doctor, to compensate for any muscular or balance deficits.
- Consult with a doctor about any potential medication side effects that may lead to dizziness or drowsiness, both of which boost fall risk.
- Make sure the senior you love receives at least annual eye exams and that corrective lenses are always worn when prescribed.
Anthem Home Care can assist in many ways, from in-home safety assessments to avoid falls, to highly individualized care for seniors dealing with all the challenges of a TBI as well as other conditions. Reach out to us at 361-643-2323 for free in-home consultation and also to discover more about how our specialized senior care in Rockport is helping older adults live life to the fullest, every day.