When you think of a traumatic brain injury (TBI), your first thought may be a sports-related accident, such as a football player crashing head-first into a rival, or even a head-on collision in a car accident – something less likely to affect seniors. Yet the prevalence of traumatic brain injuries in older adults is much more common than you might think. In fact, one of the leading factors behind TBIs is falls – which we all know are also one of several leading reasons for serious injury in the elderly.
Traumatic brain injury is classified as mild, moderate, or severe, according to several criteria: whether or not the individual who incurred the injury was rendered unconscious, and if so, how long the state of unconsciousness lasted, together with the degree of symptom severity. Regardless of the classification, a TBI might have long-lasting and considerable effects on a senior loved one. Traumatic brain injury symptoms differ from one individual to another, but can include any or all of the following:
- Confusion, disorientation, and the inability to remember the events surrounding the injury
- Troubles 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 generally maintains a state of consciousness, or if unconsciousness is experienced, it’s less than half an hour in duration. A moderate TBI is diagnosed when unconsciousness lasts longer than half an hour, but less than twenty-four hours, while a severe TBI results from over twenty-four hours of unconsciousness. Symptoms are typically similar regardless of the level of injury, but are much more serious and last longer as the severity also increases.
With nearly 775,000 current senior TBI survivors, it’s essential to make a plan now to ensure your senior loved ones remain safe, especially from falls. These preventative measures can help:
- Assess the home environment and tackle any fall hazards such as throw rugs, extension cords, any clutter or furniture obstructing walking paths, and lack of lighting.
- Be certain that seniors take advantage of a cane or walker at all times when advised by the physician, to compensate for any muscular or balance deficits.
- Talk to the doctor about any potential medication side effects which could bring about dizziness or drowsiness, each of which boost fall risk.
- Make sure senior loved ones receive at least annual eye exams and that corrective lenses are always worn when prescribed.
Live Free Home Health Care can help in many ways, from in-home safety appraisals to stop falls, to highly specialized care for individuals dealing with all the challenges of a TBI, as well as other conditions. Give us a call at 603-217-0149 for a free in-home consultation and also to find out about how our professional Holderness home care services are helping seniors live life to the fullest, each and every day.