traumatic brain injury

Traumatic Brain Injury and the Aging Adult

Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) affect not only professional athletes, but also many older adults as a result of a fall or auto accident, says a recent survey of Aging Life Care Professionals™. Advocacy on the client’s behalf is identified as the most needed strategy in helping families overcome the huge adjustments in daily life.

Traumatic Brain Injury Cases High in Older Population Too; Adjustment to “New Normal” Requires New Strategies

Ongoing news of the ravages of traumatic brain injury (TBI) among former NFL players prompted the Aging Life Care Association™ (ALCA) to conduct a survey that takes a closer look at cases of TBI being managed by Aging Life Care Professionals. The survey of aging experts released last week illustrates the prevalence and causes of TBI among the aging population and identifies the challenges associated with their care.

During the week before the Super Bowl (Feb 3-6, 2016), 63% of surveyed Aging Life Care Professionals™ said their caseloads included individuals with TBI. Although Aging Life Care™ experts typically care for aging adults, the survey revealed that at least one provides services for a nine-year-old child. The majority of cases (96%) included adults in the 41-80 age range. The overwhelming cause of these injuries was falls (52%) and auto accidents (51%). Other causes included other accidental blunt trauma (28%), sports-related injury (8%), and violence (7%).top reasons of TBI

The strategies for treatment most in demand from clients, according to the 266 participating in the survey included:

  • Advocacy
  • stress relief for family
  • therapy/support

Ranked closely behind:

  • assistance with placement (i.e. nursing home, assisted living, memory care)
  • communications
  • stress relief for families
  • financial planning
  • managing the relationship role changes

Aging Life Care Professionals also collaborate with other professionals in caring for TBI clients, primarily physicians and physical, occupational, or speech therapists. Also consulted were neuropsychologists, attorneys, caregiver agencies, and mental health providers.

“Those over age 65 when TBI occurs are often automatically branded with a diagnosis of dementia and the TBI diagnosis seems to fall off the client’s medical record and they cease to receive care appropriate for TBI.” – survey respondent

The biggest challenge for families whose loved one has suffered a TBI was overwhelmingly identified as issues relating to behavior changes and accepting the “new person,” a “new personality, a “new normal.” One respondent identified it as, “The loss of role of the person who used to be more capable … and the strain of the ongoing demise of the person.”

This type of loss has been called an “ambiguous loss” (a term coined by family therapist and author Pauline Boss). It means “having the person’s physical presence but psychological absence. The person is there, but emotionally or cognitively missing.”

Aging Life Care Professionals know the local resources and specialists that can help TBI patients find a ‘new normal’,” says Dianne McGraw, President of Aging Life Care Association. “From coordinating services to offering caregiving coaching, we give families the tools they need to live an optimal life.”

To find an Aging Life Care manager experienced in working with TBI patients, visit aginglifecare.org.


This blog is for informational purposes only and does not constitute, nor is it intended to be a substitute for, professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Information on this blog does not necessarily reflect official positions of the Aging Life Care Association™ and is provided “as is” without warranty. Always consult with a qualified professional with any particular questions you may have regarding your or a family member’s needs.

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