Protecting Aging Brains: Tips for Preventing Traumatic Brain Injuries in Older Adults
Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) can be a serious concern for older adults, particularly those over the age of 65. A TBI is caused by a sudden blow or jolt to the head that disrupts the normal function of the brain. Falls are the leading cause of TBIs in older adults, accounting for over half of all cases. In this blog post, we’ll explore the impact of traumatic brain injuries on older adults and provide some tips for preventing them.
Impact of Traumatic Brain Injuries on Older Adults
The impact of a traumatic brain injury on an older adult can vary depending on the severity of the injury. Common symptoms of a TBI in older adults can include confusion, memory loss, and difficulty with balance and coordination. In more severe cases, older adults may experience seizures, loss of consciousness, and difficulty with motor functions.
Even minor TBIs can have long-lasting effects on an older adult’s cognitive and emotional function. For example, a TBI can increase the risk of developing depression and anxiety, as well as cognitive decline and dementia.
Preventing Traumatic Brain Injuries in Older Adults
While it’s impossible to completely eliminate the risk of TBIs in older adults, there are steps that can be taken to reduce the likelihood of injury. Here are some tips for preventing TBIs in older adults:
- Stay Physically Active
Staying physically active is an important way to prevent falls and TBIs in older adults. Regular exercise can help improve balance, strength, and coordination, making falls less likely. Additionally, exercise can help reduce the risk of other health problems that can contribute to TBIs, such as high blood pressure and diabetes.
- Make Home Safety Modifications
Making home safety modifications can also help prevent falls and TBIs in older adults. This includes installing grab bars in bathrooms, using non-slip mats in the shower and bathtub, and ensuring that stairways are well lit and have handrails. Additionally, older adults may benefit from using assistive devices, such as canes or walkers, to help maintain balance and stability.
- Review Medications with a Doctor or Pharmacist
Many medications can increase the risk of falls and TBIs in older adults. For example, sedatives, sleep aids, and some pain medications can cause dizziness and confusion, making falls more likely. Older adults should review their medications with a doctor or pharmacist to ensure that they are not taking any medications that increase their risk of falls or TBIs.
- Get Regular Vision and Hearing Tests
Vision and hearing problems can also increase the risk of falls and TBIs in older adults. Older adults should get regular vision and hearing tests to ensure that their senses are functioning properly. Additionally, older adults should ensure that their eyeglasses and hearing aids are in good condition and being used properly.
- Wear Proper Footwear
Wearing proper footwear can also help prevent falls and TBIs in older adults. Older adults should wear shoes that are comfortable, well-fitting, and provide good support. High heels and shoes with slick soles should be avoided, as they can increase the risk of falls.
Traumatic brain injuries are a serious concern for older adults, particularly those over the age of 65. Falls are the leading cause of TBIs in older adults, but there are steps that can be taken to reduce the likelihood of injury. Staying physically active, making home safety modifications, reviewing medications with a doctor or pharmacist, getting regular vision and hearing tests, and wearing proper footwear are all important steps that older adults can take to prevent TBIs. By taking these steps, older adults can help protect their brains and reduce their risk of injury.