March is brain injury awareness month. A brain injury can significantly impact an older adult’s ability to age in place. Having a head injury can be a life altering experience for the individual and their family. As an occupational therapist (OT) I’ve seen firsthand how lives change as a result of a head injury. Everyday tasks like getting dressed, brushing your teeth, and fixing breakfast can become much more challenging and complicated. Family members may feel like their loved one has completely changed. Depending on the type and location of the brain injury, the individual’s personalities, likes and dislikes, and attitudes may be completely different. They may also seem to have poor safety awareness and be impulsive and impatient.
According to the CDC, 1.7 million people sustain a traumatic brain injury (TBI) every year. A TBI can be caused by a blow or jolt to the head or when something penetrates the brain. A TBI can be mild, causing a shortened period of altered mental status or consciousness or it can be severe, causing extended periods of unconsciousness after the initial injury. The CDC estimates that about 75% of TBIs that occur each year are the result of a concussion or some type of mild TBI.
Statistics on TBI
Knowing that falls are the most common cause of TBIs among seniors highlights the importance of fall prevention education and fall prevention programs. The link between aging in place and fall prevention is clear. Fall prevention education and fall prevention programs can truly help reduce the likelihood of falls. This can reduce the likelihood of TBIs among seniors and helping them to age safely in place. Click here to learn more about TBIs in seniors.