TBI and the Elderly a Dangerous Combination June 13, 2010.

Traumatic brain injury is a concern in the elderly. Falls happen more frequently as one ages.

More and more seniors want to maintain their independence. It’s a good goal and keeps them healthy and in good spirits with a positive outlook on running their own lives. Along with this independence though comes a few risks that need to be taken into consideration; the risk of falls or other seemingly small accidents that may mean an end to living independently. One of the first things seniors need to do is protect themselves from traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Statistically speaking, falls are one of the leading causes of traumatic brain injury and in people over the age of 75 years old, the chances of sustaining a fall while at home are quite high. In fact, if you are over 75 you have the greatest probability of being hospitalized after a fall; a fall that may result in death or traumatic brain injury. Prevention for falls can’t be stressed enough when it comes to the elderly living alone; that and fast access to help and prompt care.

Not all falls result in severe brain injury, but may manifest themselves as mild TBI (also referred to on occasion as a concussion). If your loved one has fallen, be on the lookout for some of these symptoms: blurred vision; a lingering headache that isn’t a bad one, but annoying; dizziness; sensitivity to light or sound; constant ringing in the ears; memory problems; difficulties concentrating; and changes in sleeping patterns.

Moderate TBI has similar symptoms, but may also have slurred speech; seizures; pupil dilation in one or both eyes; nausea; a bad headache that won’t quit; numbness in arms or legs; and loss of coordination. If you see any of these signposts of TBI, don’t wait; get the person to a doctor right away for treatment. If the older person is on warfarin, it is paramount you seek medical attention fast, whether the person is experiencing the above symptoms or not. Warfarin is nothing to fool around with.

While it’s nice that seniors want to live on their own, they really need help when it comes to medical problems that may arise if they fall. Time is critical. Being isolated and alone means those who have fallen often aren’t discovered until it’s too late. These observations are also applicable if you have a much loved senior in a nursing home and they take a fall that no one responds to appropriately. Medic alert systems may save the day in situations like this.

Know the signs and symptoms of TBI. Know your senior’s habits and how they normally react to things. If something changes, take them to a doctor. If your senior has fallen in a nursing home as result of negligent care, speak to a Cleveland medical malpractice lawyer.