March is Brain Injury Awareness Month, and if you’re caring for a family member with a traumatic brain injury (TBI), there’s no better time to educate yourself on what to do in your role as a TBI caregiver. Being the main source of support and care for brain injury patients can be a long road, but it’s important to remember that every situation is different and there is no one-size-fits-all approach.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), every year, approximately 2.87 million people in the United States sustain a brain injury. Of those people, 275,000 end up hospitalized, while 1.365 million are treated and released from an emergency room.
Brain Injury Association of America
First and foremost, it’s important to educate yourself as one of many TBI caregivers about brain injuries and their effects. The more you know about what your loved one is going through, the better equipped you’ll be to provide them with the proper care to recover. The Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA) is a great resource for information, especially during Brain Injury Awareness Month, on all aspects of care for brain injury patients, from causes and symptoms to treatment and recovery.
When providing care for brain injury patients, it’s important to help them regain as much independence as possible. This can be a slow and gradual process, but even small accomplishments can make a big difference in their quality of life. Encourage your loved one to participate in activities they enjoy and assist them with anything they may need help with.
It’s also important to take care of yourself both physically and emotionally. Caregiving can be taxing, especially when providing long-term care for brain injury patients, so make sure to schedule regular breaks for yourself and reach out to other family members or friends for support when needed. The BIAA also has a variety of resources available for caregivers, so be sure to check them out.
Finally, don’t hesitate to seek professional caregiving help if you feel like you’re in over your head. There are many home care providers, like FirstLight, that offer services specifically to assist in the care for brain injury patients.
Causes of Traumatic Brain Injuries in Elderly People
Traumatic brain injuries are a serious and potentially life-altering condition that can affect individuals of all ages. However, TBIs can be particularly devastating for elderly people, as they may be more susceptible to falls and other accidents that can cause significant head trauma.
There are many different causes of TBIs in elderly people, but falls are by far the most common. According to the CDC, falls are responsible for more than half of all TBIs among adults aged 65 and older.
Effects of Traumatic Brain Injuries
TBIs can have a wide range of effects, depending on the severity and location of the injury. Some common symptoms TBI caregivers should look for in their elderly loved ones include:
- Memory loss
- Difficulty concentrating
- Depression and anxiety
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Personality changes
Brain Injury Prevention Tips
Preventing TBIs in elderly people is crucial, as these injuries can have serious and lasting effects that possibly require long-term care for brain injury patients. To help prevent a TBI or further damage to the brain of someone experiencing a TBI already, here are some tips.
- Remove tripping hazards from the home, such as loose rugs and clutter
- Install grab bars and handrails in bathrooms and other areas where falls are common
- Encourage regular exercise to improve balance and strength
- Make sure they wear appropriate protective gear and proper footwear when participating in certain physical activities
Recovery Tips for TBI Caregivers
If you are a caregiver for someone who has sustained a brain injury, you may be feeling overwhelmed. It is important to know that you are not alone; there are many resources available to help you care for your loved one. Below are a few tips to help you care for a TBI patient.
Prepare The Home
It may be hard for your loved one to get around like they did prior to having a TBI, especially if they are undergoing long-term care for brain injury. Installing ramps, a roll-in shower and making doors/entryways wider may be a good idea if they are now getting around with the help of a wheelchair or walker.
Manage Your Loved One’s Stress
Encourage the person you are caring for to release frustration around symptoms of a TBI by listening to calming music, participating in yoga, meditating or enjoying nature.
Establish A Routine
Getting enough sleep is crucial to promoting recovery and healing of the brain. Establish a bedtime and morning routine and minimize screen time, caffeine and alcohol to promote healing.
Keep Track Each Day
Writing down day-to-day activities for your loved one and having them journal too will help with their memory and provide information for doctors.
FirstLight Home Care – Traumatic Injury Home Care Services
This Brain Injury Awareness Month, reach out to FirstLight to find the perfect caregiver to help with activities of daily living for your loved ones who need traumatic injury care at home following a brain injury, neck or spinal cord trauma or a musculoskeletal injury. Specialty care services may vary by location. Please find your nearest location today to discuss which services are available.