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Understanding Traumatic Brain Injury in Seniors

By Rick Cohen, 9:00 am on

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. TBI can be even more complicated in seniors since related symptoms may be mistaken for signs of memory impairment often linked to age.

Symptoms Associated with TBI

Accidental falls are a leading cause of TBI in individuals 75 and older. Traumatic brain injuries can be mild, moderate, or severe, although Milwaukee senior care providers note that most TBIs are classified as mild when not considered life threatening. Symptoms of mild TBI (concussion) 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 seniors already have dementia symptoms)
• Incoherent speech
• Trouble maintaining balance
• Vision or hearing difficulties

Diagnosis and Treatment for TBI in Seniors

Traumatic brain injuries (that haven’t resulted in unconsciousness) are frequently diagnosed by questioning the senior about what he or she remembers and testing his or her recollection of current facts (date, who’s the president, etc.). Imaging (MRI, computed tomography) can determine if there is internal bleeding or swelling in the brain. Treatment of TBI in seniors varies greatly, but may include:

• Short hospital stay (for observation)
• Home monitoring (by caregivers/family members)
• Outpatient rehab (to relearn lost skills/abilities)

Some traumatic brain injuries may contribute to the development of dementia-related conditions. However, treatment of TBI is the same for all patients regardless of any existing dementia.

Regardless of the source of the trauma, any possible brain injury should be taken seriously. Even if you only suspect that your loved one experienced a bump to the head or fall, insist that he or she sees a doctor if you notice symptoms indicative of TBI.

If your loved one has elected to age in place but you’re concerned about his or her safety, let Home Care Assistance help. We offer hourly and live-in care, as well as specialized stroke, dementia, and Parkinson’s care Milwaukee families trust. Our caregivers can provide around-the-clock safety monitoring, mobility support, and help your loved one with everyday tasks around the home. For more information, please call (414) 964-8000 and speak with a qualified Care Manager today.