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Traumatic Brain Injuries and Fall Prevention

As we develop, our bodies adapt and we tend to stay upright a majority of the time, without having to think much about it. It’s not until we reach older age that the odds of falling become greater, and the injuries, in turn, become much more severe.

Published: Feb 15, 2018

Traumatic Brain Injuries and Fall Prevention

Falling Down
Think back to when you were a child and all the times you fell down, whether from roughhousing with siblings or playing outside with friends. It could be said that falling down is an essential part of growing up. As we develop, our bodies adapt and we tend to stay upright a majority of the time, without having to think much about it. It’s not until we reach older age that the odds of falling become greater, and the injuries, in turn, become much more severe. In fact, falls are continuously noted as the leading cause of traumatic brain injury (TBI) hospitalization and death for older adults.

Traumatic Brain Injuries
Although TBI’s are serious at any age, they are much more likely to threaten the cognitive health of seniors. Some of the effects include everything from lack of coordination to a state of general confusion. Additionally, numerous studies within the last few decades show that there is a correlation between brain injuries (moderate and severe) and the risk of developing Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia.

Treatment of mild TBI’s may require occupational, physical, and/or speech therapy to help a senior restore their ability to function, while more severe cases require prolonged hospitalization and careful observation. Whether mild or severe, TBI’s are often detrimental to a senior’s wellbeing and can interfere greatly with quality of life.

As mentioned, falls represent the leading cause of TBI’s – as well as a number of other debilitating injuries such as hip fractures and broken bones – so it’s important that seniors do what they can to reduce their risk of falls. Doing so can be the key to maintaining their health and independence. Here are some tips that they can follow:

Fall Prevention Tips

  • Have your vision checked often, and wear lenses if prescribed by an optometrist. It’s not uncommon for certain age-related eye conditions and lack of depth perception to cause a senior to fall.
  • Ensure that the house is free of hazards. Remove loose rugs, stacks of newspapers/magazines, as well as any cords that may be lying out.
  • Install assistive devices wherever possible. This can include everything from grab bars in the bathroom to a raised toilet seat with armrests.
  • Keep the home bright. Keep night lights in all rooms and hallways to ensure that there is illumination of some kind at every turn. Also be sure to keep flashlights easily accessible in the event of a power outage.
  • With a physician’s approval, incorporate an exercise regimen into your daily routine. Moderate physical activity can go a long way to improving one’s balance, strength and coordination – all of which can help reduce the risk of falling.
  • Talk with your physician to understand how any prescription or over-the-counter medications may impact the odds of falling. Similarly, he or she may be able to identify other issues that can increase the overall probability, and then determine what lifestyle changes to make.

Most importantly, it’s important for seniors to know that falling is not something that just normally happens as you get older, but conversely, they should also be aware that it’s not something that just happens to other people. Anyone can fall, but a majority of falls are preventable with the right precautions in place.

Comfort Keepers® Can Help
If we could, many of us would probably choose to be with our loved ones all the time, to help ensure their safety. But there inevitably comes a time when our loved ones need additional support. Comfort Keepers® can provide that assistance. Our compassionate and professionally trained caregivers can help ensure that a senior’s living environment is safe and that they’re taking the necessary steps to reduce their risk of falling. We can also help them get to any scheduled appointments with a physician or optometrist. Simply put, our goal is to see that aging adults have what they need to live happy, safe, and independent lives. Call your local Comfort Keepers office today to learn more.

References:
Mayo Clinic. “Health Aging: Fall Prevention.” Web. 2018.
National Council on Aging. “Debunking the Myths of Older Adult and Falls.” Web. 2018.
Alzheimer’s Association. “Alzheimer’s and Dementia: Traumatic Brain Injury.” Web. 2018.
Brain Injury Guide & Resources. “The Elderly and Traumatic Brain Injury.” Web. 2018. 

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