When you think about a traumatic brain injury (TBI), your preliminary thought might be 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 impact senior loved ones. However, the prevalence of traumatic brain injuries in older adults is more typical than you may think. In fact, one of the leading factors behind TBIs in seniors is falls – which we know are also one of the primary reasons for significant injury in this population.
Traumatic brain injury is categorized as mild, moderate, or severe, according to a number of criteria: whether the person who sustained the injury was rendered unconscious, and if so, how long the state of unconsciousness continued, combined with the degree of symptom severity. No matter what the classification, a TBI can have enduring and considerable effects on a senior loved one. Symptoms vary from one person to another, but can include any or all of the following:
- Confusion, disorientation, along with the inability to recall the events related to 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 typically retains a state of consciousness, or if unconsciousness is experienced, it is less than 30 minutes in duration. A moderate TBI is diagnosed when unconsciousness lasts more than 30 minutes but under 24 hours, while a severe TBI results from over a day of unconsciousness. Symptoms are typically the same regardless of the level of injury, but they are more serious and last longer while the severity increases.
With approximately 775,000 current senior TBI survivors, it is crucial to make a plan now to ensure your senior loved ones remain safe, specifically from falls. These precautionary measures can help:
- Assess the home environment and address any fall hazards such as throw rugs, electrical cords, any clutter or furniture hindering walking paths, and lack of lighting.
- Be certain that older adults utilize a cane or walker at all times when suggested by the physician, to compensate for any muscular or balance insufficiencies.
- Talk to the doctor about any potential medication side effects that may bring about dizziness or drowsiness, each of which increase fall risk.
- Make sure loved ones receive at least annual eye exams and that corrective lenses are always worn when prescribed.
Grace Home Care can assist in lots of ways, from in-home safety assessments to prevent falls, to highly customized care for individuals dealing with the difficulties of a TBI or any other condition. Call us at 785-286-2273 for a free in-home consultation and also to discover more about how our specialized elder care in Topeka, KS is helping seniors live life to the fullest, on a daily basis.