Traumatic brain injury (TBI) refers to any type of serious injury to the head that affects the ability to think, learn, retrieve previously acquired knowledge, and process information. TBIs can be even more complicated in seniors, since related symptoms may be mistaken for signs of memory impairment often linked to age.
The Extent of Brain Trauma
When an older adult experiences a blow to the head, there may or may not be an open wound. However, dangerous trauma occurs internally. Upon impact, the brain quickly moves in the opposite direction, then reverses movement and impacts the skull at the site of the initial blow. The movements may occur several times if the blow is severe.
The jostling motion tears neurons and delicate blood vessels. The ruptured vessels bleed. Fluid accumulates, and the ventricles and tissues swell, putting pressure on the already-traumatized brain. Researchers have found that within hours of a TBI, amyloid proteins and tau plaques begin rapidly accumulating along with other proteins, further damaging neurons.
Although TBIs gradually heal, the trauma they cause may linger. Blood vessels may remain blocked secondary to damage or clot formation. The proteins and plaques continue accumulating months after the injury, and the resulting damage may even lead to the onset of dementia symptoms.
Seniors with dementia, no matter what the cause, can optimize their quality of life with the help of highly trained, experienced professional caregivers. Certain age-related conditions can make it more challenging for seniors to age in place safely and comfortably, but Philadelphia live-in care experts are available around the clock to help seniors manage their health. Whether your loved one is living with dementia or recovering from a stroke, you can trust the professional live-in caregivers from Home Care Assistance to enhance his or her quality of life.
Symptoms Associated with TBI
Accidental falls are a leading cause of TBIs in individuals 75 and older. Traumatic brain injuries can be mild, moderate, or severe, although most TBIs are classified as mild when not considered life-threatening. Symptoms of mild TBIs (concussions) appear either at the time of the injury or days—sometimes even weeks—later. Any of the following symptoms can be associated with a traumatic brain injury:
- Unconsciousness (immediately following the injury)
- Inability to recall the event that caused the injury
- Sudden confusion or disorientation
- Increased confusion (if a senior already has dementia symptoms)
- Incoherent speech
- Difficulty maintaining balance
- Vision or hearing difficulties
Seniors with head injuries often need assistance with everyday activities while they recover. If your senior loved one has been diagnosed with a serious condition and needs help with tasks like meal prep, transportation, bathing, and grooming, reach out to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of homecare services families can trust. We also offer comprehensive care for seniors with dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s.
Diagnosis & Treatment for TBIs in Seniors
A traumatic brain injury that hasn’t resulted in unconsciousness is frequently diagnosed by questioning the senior about what he or she remembers and testing his or her recollection of current facts (e.g., the date, the name of the current president, etc.). Imaging tests such as MRIs and CT scans can determine if there’s internal bleeding or swelling in the brain. Treatment of TBIs in seniors varies greatly but may include:
- A short hospital stay (for observation)
- Home monitoring
- Outpatient rehab to regain lost skills/abilities
Regardless of the source of the trauma, any possible brain injury should be taken seriously. Even if you only suspect your loved one experienced a bump to the head or a fall, insist that he or she see a doctor if you notice symptoms that indicate a possible TBI.
If your loved one has experienced a head injury, having a trained professional caregiver close by can provide you and your family with much-needed peace of mind. Not every senior has the same care needs, which means they don’t all need the same type of in-home care. Philadelphia families can rely on Home Care Assistance to provide individualized care plans to meet their elderly loved ones’ unique care needs. Our holistic Balanced Care Method was designed to help seniors focus on healthy lifestyle habits such as eating nutritious foods, exercising regularly, and maintaining strong social ties, and our Cognitive Therapeutics Method offers mentally stimulating activities that can boost cognitive health and delay the onset of dementia. For reliable in-home care services, contact us at (215) 645-4663.