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Traumatic Brain Injury and the Older Adult

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Updated May 28, 2019 | Brain Injuries |


If you suspect someone you love has experienced a head trauma, erring on the side of caution is always the right answer. The smallest bump can turn into a significant medical issue —with long-lasting or permanent effects—if it remains unaddressed.

Elder Brain Injury Statistics

Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) send more than 80,000 older adults to the emergency room every year. And most of them stay: 75 percent of those visits result in hospital stays. Far and away, falls are the leading cause of these injuries. Changes in body composition makes aging bodies not just unsteadier but more vulnerable to damage from a fall. Because so many older adults use anticoagulants, the risk of hemorrhage after a trauma is much greater than it is for others.

TBI is a “silent epidemic,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Not only do older people often keep quiet about accidents, in cases where dementia is a factor, recognizing the signs of an injury is also a challenge.

Symptoms of Brain Injuries in Older Adults

If someone you care for falls under the older adult umbrella (we’ll define it, just as the CDC does—age 65 and up), pay special attention to signs of a fall, like bruises or cuts. Look for other, less obvious symptoms of brain injury: loss of balance, seeming a little out of it, forgetfulness, or depression.

How to Prevent Falls

Falls aren’t inevitable, however, and exercise is a great way to reduce the odds of taking a spill. When the muscles are stronger and balance is better, a person is much more sure-footed and even able to right themselves if they do trip or slip.

A few little household changes also go a long way to preventing falls:

  • Rearrange the cupboards so that everything is reachable without having to rely on a step stool
  • Up the wattage of household bulbs so that hazards are plainly visible
  • Area rugs are not innocent decoration in the home of an older adult. They’re too easy to trip over. Get rid of them or, at a minimum, secure them with double-sided tape. (But, really—get rid of them)
  • Buy slippers that have gripping soles for inside the house and sturdy shoes with good support for everywhere else
  • Those grab bars you see in hospitals and hotel bathrooms? Install them. They can be a literal lifesaver, as can sturdy handrails in stairways

In just a decade, 20 percent of the population will be 65 or older. (May we all be so lucky.) With that increase in elder Americans may come a lot more falls, and so it’s going to be more important than ever to be vigilant about the effects of TBIs.

Contact a Brain Injury Attorney Today

If you or a loved one have been injured as a result of a brain injury, you are urged to contact the Indianapolis Brain Injury Attorneys of Wilson Kehoe Winingham. The lawyers at WKW can help you get the compensation you deserve. Call 317.920.6400 or fill out an online contact form for a free, no-obligation case evaluation.

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