How Do Head Injuries Increase Dementia Risk?

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that up to 25 percent of adults 65 or older experience falls each year. Up to 51 percent of the injuries resulting from falling include head trauma and traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). Another 9 percent of traumatic brain injury cases in seniors occur during a motor vehicle collision. Hospital records in the United States show that older adults account for more than 80,000 cases of TBI emergency room visits annually. Research shows that the trauma the brain endures after a blow to the head makes older adults more likely to develop dementia.

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 is likely to lead to the onset of dementia symptoms.

Scientists from Sweden’s Umea University assessed the correlation between TBIs and the development of dementia in approximately 300,000 adults. They determined that seniors who had experienced TBIs were six times more susceptible to developing cognitive impairment compared to those who had never had a TBI. Their study was published in the January 2018 issue of PLOS Medicine.

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 at-home care Milwaukee, WI, families can trust. We also offer comprehensive care for seniors with dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s.

TBI Dementia Symptoms

Dementia symptoms may occur depending on the severity of the TBI. The type of cognitive impairment that develops is also dependent on the location of the injury. For some older adults, symptoms develop within a month after the injury. In others, symptoms may not become apparent for up to a decade. Even a mild brain injury may cause:

• Confusion 
• Disorientation 
• Disrupted sleep patterns 
• Emotional changes 
• Headaches 
• Inability to learn or retain information 
• Incoherent speech

Seniors with moderate to severe injuries exhibit similar symptoms. However, the cognitive impairment isn’t reversible and progresses with time.

Seniors with dementia, no matter what the cause, can optimize their quality of life with the help of a highly trained, experienced professional caregiver. If your senior loved one needs professional dementia care, Milwaukee caregivers are available around the clock to provide the high-quality care he or she needs. Using the revolutionary Cognitive Therapeutics Method, dementia caregivers can help your loved one stay mentally engaged and delay the progression of the disease.

TBI Treatment

Immediately following a TBI, older adults are typically hospitalized and undergo imaging studies to determine the extent of the trauma. Cognitive symptoms and healing progression are monitored over time.

If your loved one has experienced a head injury or is living with dementia, 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 elderly home care. Milwaukee families can rely on Home Care Assistance to provide individualized care plans to meet your elderly loved one’s 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 stave off cognitive decline and delay the onset of dementia. If you need professional home care for your aging loved one, our Care Managers Home Care Assistance are just a phone call away. Reach out to Home Care Assistance today at Milwaukee (414) 964-8000 or Waukesha (262) 782-3383.