When you think of a traumatic brain injury (TBI), your initial 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 impact the elderly. Nevertheless, the prevalence of head trauma in seniors is much more common than you might presume. In fact, among the leading reasons behind TBIs is falls – which we know are also one of the leading reasons behind severe injury in older adults.
Traumatic brain injury is defined as mild, moderate, or severe, based on multiple criteria: whether or not the individual who sustained the injury was rendered unconscious, and if so, how long the state of unconsciousness continued, combined with the degree of symptom severity. Whatever the classification, a TBI may have long-lasting and serious effects on seniors. Symptoms differ from one individual to another, but may include any or all of the following:
- Confusion, disorientation, plus the inability to remember the events associated with the injury
- Difficulties 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 normally maintains a state of consciousness, or if unconsciousness is experienced, it’s no more than half an hour in duration. A moderate TBI is diagnosed when unconsciousness lasts longer 30 minutes but under twenty-four hours, while a severe TBI results from over twenty-four hours of unconsciousness. Symptoms are normally similar regardless of the level of injury, but they are more serious and last for a longer time as the severity increases.
With as many as 775,000 current senior TBI survivors, it is essential to take the appropriate steps now to make sure your loved ones stay safe, specifically from falls. These preventative measures will help:
- Evaluate the home environment and address any fall hazards such as throw rugs, electrical cords, any clutter or furniture blocking walking paths, and inadequate lighting.
- Be certain that older adults take advantage of a cane or walker at all times when recommended by the doctor, to compensate for any muscular or balance insufficiencies.
- Talk to the doctor about any potential medication side effects which could cause dizziness or drowsiness, both of which heighten fall risk.
- Make sure the senior you love receive at least annual eye exams and that corrective lenses are always worn when prescribed.
At-Home Care Company can assist in lots of ways, from in-home safety appraisals to avoid falls, to highly individualized care for those struggling with all the challenges of a TBI, as well as other conditions. Call us at (515) 292-2650 for a free in-home assessment and to find out about how our reliable home health services in Des Moines, Iowa are helping seniors live life to the fullest, every day. Visit our Service Area page for a list of all of the communities where we provide care.