According to the Alzheimer’s Association, research has linked moderate and severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) to a greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia years after the original head injury. TBI affects not only professional athletes but also many older adults as a result of a fall or auto accident.
Find Help Adjusting to Life with a TBI
As part of Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month, ALCA is sharing the results of a survey that takes a closer look at cases of TBI being managed by Aging Life Care Professionals. The survey of aging experts illustrates the prevalence and causes of TBI among the aging population and identifies the challenges associated with their care.
Sixty-three percent of surveyed Aging Life Care Professionals™ said their caseloads include 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%).
The strategies for treatment most in demand from clients, according to those participating in the survey included:
- stress relief for family
Ranked closely behind:
- assistance with placement (i.e. nursing home, assisted living, memory care)
- 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.
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 the Aging Life Care Association. “From coordinating services to offering caregiving coaching, we give families the tools they need to live an optimal life.”
If you need help navigating care options or need strategies to manage the adjustments to daily life, find an Aging Life Care™ expert near you at 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.