Brain Injuries and the Elderly
What is the most common cause of brain injury among the elderly?
The most common cause of brain injury among the elderly are falls (accounting for 61% of all TBIs in adults age 65 and older). These falls can be very serious. In fact, seniors who fall are 4 to 5 times more likely than any other group to be admitted to a long-term care facility for a year or more.
Approximately 1.4 million people sustain a traumatic brain injury (TBI) in the United States every year. According to the Centers for Disease Control, seniors are particularly vulnerable to sustaining a traumatic brain injury. In fact, adults over 75 years old have the highest rates of TBI-related hospitalizations and deaths than any other group.
What are the factors that contribute to the heightened risk of falling and TBI in the elderly?
- Medication. Many older people take medications that make them dizzy or drowsy. Some medications may also impair balance and weaken muscles.
- Other medical conditions (like Parkinson's disease and osteoarthritis may make the elderly particularly vulnerable to falls as well).
- Visual impairments, as weakening eyesight can prevent seniors from seeing obstacles in their path.
- Orthopedic problems
- Lack of exercise. In addition to helping people build muscles, lose weight, and stay fit, exercise helps improve balance. Without proper exercise, seniors are more likely to fall and get hurt when they do.
- Improper footwear
- Safety factors in the home. For example, homes may have uneven surfaces (inside and out), loose rugs and cords, poor lighting, and frequently-used items can be out of reach.
How can these falls and head injuries be avoided?
With proper precautions, some of these falls and head injuries can be avoided. Indeed, the best "cure" for brain injury is prevention. Treating a traumatic brain injury is also important.
Some of the ways to prevent falls in the elderly are:
- Physical exercise to increase overall strength. Before engaging in any exercise program, they should consult their physician.
- Proper footwear shoes should provide good support, fit well, and have non-slip soles. The elderly should also avoid walking around in socks and slippers.
- Grab bars and non-slip mats in the bathroom
- Eliminate clutter that could be a tripping hazard.
- Have proper lighting even simple things like nightlights in bathrooms and hallways can make a big difference.
- Keep frequently-used items within easy reach
- Check vision frequently
- Review medications
These tips are useful knowledge for healthcare professionals, long-term care facilities, children of adults over 75, and older individuals themselves.
Keeping these tips in mind will hopefully help prevent falls and any ensuing traumatic brain injuries. Recovering from traumatic brain injuries can be difficult, so prevention is your best bet.
If, despite your best efforts, your loved one sustains a brain injury which is due to the negligence or criminal action of someone else, you should seek legal advice. You are entitled to compensation for your medical expenses and other expenses that occur as a result of the injury.
Call 1-800-561-4887 today for a No-Hassle, No-Obligation, Free Case Consultation
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