10 March 2017,
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Every March, the Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA) observes Brain Injury Awareness Month. Their efforts are aligned to bring awareness and understanding of the needs of those that have experienced brain injury and their families. An estimated 1.7 million people suffer from a traumatic brain injury every year in the United States. Falls are a leading cause of these injuries and the elderly, those 75 and older, have the highest rate of traumatic brain injury-related hospitalization.  This age group recovers more slowly from traumatic brain injuries and many will require part- or full-time caregivers.

Risk Factors

  • Falls, as previously stated, are the number one cause of traumatic brain injury.
  • Vehicle crashes are also another common cause.
  • Sports injuries.

The Effects of Traumatic Brain Injury

The possible effects of traumatic brain injury may be short-term, long-term or permanent. These include:

  • Loss of short-term memory including the event that caused the brain damage.
  • Confusion and disorientation.
  • Difficulty learning.
  • Trouble speaking.
  • Loss of balance and coordination.
  • Problems with vision or hearing such as blurred vision and ringing in the ears.
  • Increased risk of Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia years after the injury occurs.

What to Look For

If your loved one has suffered from a fall or another accident that may have led to trauma to the brain, regardless of the symptoms, or lack thereof, it’s always a good idea to take them to their primary health care provider for a check-up. Some symptoms of traumatic brain injury do not occur for several hours to several days or weeks post injury. Symptoms to be aware of include those listed above as effects and, in addition:

  • Headache and dizziness
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Changes in sleep patterns.

How to Prevent

As with most accidents, injuries and illnesses—look to the risk factors and how to reduce their occurrence.

  • Falls can be reduced in a number of ways. This includes helping your loved one remain strong with both their coordination and balance abilities intact. Make sure their schedule consists of at least 30 minutes of exercise 5 days a week. Good exercises for balance and agility include yoga, Tai Chi, and water aerobics. Keep their home fall-free by providing a safe environment. This includes removing slipping and tripping hazards such as throw rugs and obtruding furniture. Remove clutter. Install grab bars in strategic locations such as the shower and next to the toilet. Ensure there is good lighting throughout the house and cut down on glare with lampshades.
  • Ensure your loved one is not driving “past their abilities.” If you have doubts about their ability to continue to drive in a safe manner for themselves and others on the road, consider classes designed for seniors such as Defensive Driving for Seniors and AAA’s refresher course.
  • While sports injuries may be less common for seniors, it’s still important to remember that it’s important for them to wear a helmet while riding a bike and other sport’s activities.

Home Care Provider

If your loved one suffers from traumatic brain disorders or other illnesses that impair them from completing the daily tasks of living, consider obtaining the services of a home care provider. Not only can they help with everyday activities, they can keep an eye on your parent when you can’t be there and ensure their safe passage from one room to another and one activity to another. They can be their companion and caregiver.

For more information about how the caregivers at La Jolla Nurses Homecare can help your aging parents remain in their own homes, call 858-454-9339. We are a home care agency providing quality and affordable elderly care in Pacific Beach, CA, and the surrounding communities.