Traumatic Brain Injuries in the Elderly

When you think about 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 perhaps a head-on collision in an auto accident – something less likely to affect seniors. Even so, the prevalence of traumatic brain injuries in the elderly is much more common than you might believe. In truth, one of the leading causes of TBIs is falls – which we all know are also one of the primary reasons behind severe injury in senior loved ones.

Traumatic brain injury is categorized 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 amount of symptom severity. Regardless of the classification, a TBI may have long-lasting and significant effects on a senior loved one. Symptoms vary from person to person, but can include any or all of the following:

  • Confusion, disorientation, together with the inability to remember the events related to 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 individual typically maintains a state of consciousness, or if unconsciousness is experienced, it’s no more than 30 minutes in duration. A moderate TBI is diagnosed when unconsciousness lasts more than 30 minutes but less than 24 hours, while a severe TBI results from over 24 hours of unconsciousness. Symptoms tend to be similar regardless of the level of injury, but are more severe and last longer as the severity increases.

With nearly 775,000 current senior TBI survivors, it’s highly recommended to take the appropriate steps now to make sure your senior loved ones remain safe, particularly from falls. These preventative measures can help:

  • Assess the home environment and tackle any fall hazards such as throw rugs, electrical cords, any clutter or furniture obstructing walking paths, and lack of lighting.
  • Be sure seniors utilize a cane or walker at all times when suggested by the doctor, to compensate for any muscular or balance deficits.
  • Consult with the physician about any potential medication side effects that could lead to dizziness or drowsiness, both 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.

Inspired Home Care, providers of top-rated dementia care services in Chicago, IL, can help in a variety of ways, from in-home safety appraisals to prevent falls, to highly customized care for those struggling with the challenges of a TBI as well as other conditions. Contact us at 847-787-7572 for a complimentary in-home assessment and to learn more about how our specialized Chicago home and dementia care services are helping older adults live life to the fullest, each and every day.