The number of older adults prone to slips and falls grows with each year, and these accidents often result in serious injuries such as broken bones and head trauma.
These types of injuries frequently lead to hospitalizations and even death.
A silent epidemic
Researchers with the National Institute of Health referred to traumatic brain injuries in older adults as the silent epidemic. In particular, those who are 75 years old or older are at risk for a fall-related TBI.
Because there are so many factors involved in TBI outcomes that are unique to older adults, medical professionals are developing guidelines for emergency departments and hospitals to use when a senior needs TBI treatment.
Age-related risk factors
Even a mild TBI diagnosis can cause more serious effects in older people due to the intracranial changes caused by aging. In addition, older adults have a higher risk of intracranial bleeding due to the use of anticoagulant medications. Outcomes are often worse because many patients have preexisting medical conditions.
Psychiatric Times states that older adults have the highest chance of experiencing a TBI after a fall, usually while standing. In fact, once an older adult has a fall-related TBI, they are prone to having more falls and additional TBIs.
These factors along with those due to age, medical condition and medications increase the risk of worse outcomes. Older people have a higher risk of slow recovery times and mortality than younger adults. Following a TBI, intracranial trauma can increase their risk of dementia, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.
The side effects of even a mild TBI can result in psychiatric disorders ranging from PTSD to depression. These conditions are often not preexisting.