When you think about a traumatic brain injury (TBI), your first thought could very well be a sports-related accident, such as a football player crashing head-first into a rival, or maybe a head-on collision in an auto accident – something less likely to affect senior loved ones. Yet the prevalence of senior traumatic brain injury is much more typical than you might think. In fact, one of the leading factors behind TBIs is falls – which we know are also one of the leading factors behind severe injury in older adults.
Traumatic brain injury is defined as mild, moderate, or severe, based on various criteria: whether or not the person who sustained the injury was rendered unconscious, and if so, how long their state of unconsciousness continued, combined with the degree of symptom severity. Regardless of the classification, a TBI can have enduring and considerable effects on seniors. Symptoms differ from one individual to another, but might include any or all of the following:
- Confusion, disorientation, and the inability to recall 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 disturbances
In a mild TBI, or concussion, the individual typically maintains a state of consciousness, or if unconsciousness is experienced, it is no more than 30 minutes 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 over a day of unconsciousness. Symptoms are typically similar regardless of the level of injury, but are more severe and last longer as the severity increases.
With approximately 775,000 current senior TBI survivors, it is important to take the appropriate measures now to make sure your loved ones remain safe, specifically from falls. These preventative measures will help:
- Assess the home environment and address any fall hazards such as throw rugs, extension cords, any clutter or furniture hindering walking paths, and lack of lighting.
- Make sure senior loved ones take advantage of a cane or walker at all times when advised by the doctor, to compensate for any muscular or balance deficits.
- Speak with the physician about any potential medication side effects that could bring on dizziness or drowsiness, both of which boost fall risk.
- Make sure loved ones receive at least annual eye exams and that corrective lenses are always worn when prescribed.
Hearts at Home In-Home Care can assist in lots of ways, from in-home safety appraisals to avoid falls, to highly customized care for individuals struggling with the challenges of a TBI as well as other conditions. Give us a call at 913-440-4209 for a complimentary in-home consultation or to learn more about how our elder care in Overland Park and the surrounding communities is helping seniors live life to the fullest, every day. For a complete list of the communities we serve, please visit our Service Area page.