Brain Injury Prevention for Seniors
Posted by Mike McQuinn on April 1, 2014 | no comments
Each year, an estimated 1.7 million people sustain what is known as a traumatic brain injury (or “TBI”). Traumatic brain injuries can have life-long consequences, including memory loss, loss of coordination, changes in personality, and confusion. Many seniors who suffer a traumatic brain injury require part-time or full-time caregivers.
TBI is a special health concern for people ages 75 and older. These individuals have the highest rates of TBI-related hospitalizations, and are more likely than any other age group to die as a result of a traumatic brain injury. The leading cause of TBI in older adults is falls.
Many traumatic brain injuries are preventable, especially those that are caused by falls. If you have an older adult or senior in your life, the following strategies can help prevent a traumatic brain injury.
- ENCOURAGE EXERCISE. The benefits of exercise for seniors are many. Exercise can greatly reduce the chances of a senior suffering a fall. If you have an older adult in your life, encourage him or her to do exercises that improve balance and coordination, such as yoga and stretching. Be sure to check with the older adult’s doctor about which exercises are safest and best for them.
- IMPROVE HOME SAFETY. By making an older adult’s home and surroundings safer, you can prevent falls and other serious injuries. Start by evaluating entryways, doors, hallways, and staircases. Remove anything that might cause someone to trip, including loose rugs and clutter. You can also prevent falls by placing items used often within reach, so that older adults do not feel the need to use a step stool or ladder. Consider hiring an experienced contractor to install grab bars next to the toilet and in the tub or shower.
- UNDERSTAND HOW AGING AFFECTS DRIVING. TBI can be caused in automobile accidents. As seniors age, their driving ability is affected. If you know an older adult who drives, encourage him or her to get their eyes and hearing checked regularly. An older adult’s doctor may be able to provide guidance on whether driving is still safe.
- TALK TO A DOCTOR. Some medications may affect people differently as they age. Talk to a doctor, and ask him or her to evaluate the medications your loved one is taking. Side effects from medicine may cause an older adult to feel drowsy or light-headed, and increase the chances of a fall.
- USE COMMON SENSE. Older adults should stay away from dangerous activities or unsafe areas. Seat belts, airbags, and helmets can help prevent traumatic brain injury. The use of alcohol and drugs can increase the likelihood that a traumatic brain injury will occur. Remind the older adults in your life to keep their safety in mind at all times.
There are many warning signs of traumatic brain injury. If you are concerned that a loved one may have suffered a traumatic brain injury, seek medical assistance right away. The effects of TBI may worsen if the injury is left untreated.
For more information on traumatic brain injuries, visit: