Brain injuries often leave a lasting impression on an individual, and ageing afterwards can prove to be incredibly challenging. To find out more about what it’s really like, read on…
Living with a brain injury is a justifiably scary prospect. The short-term effects of a brain injury have been well-documented, which is why they are widely regarded as one of the most serious types of injuries anyone can suffer from.
The question is, what are the long-term effects for someone growing old?
Whether you know someone who has a recently , or you have suffered one yourself, these are important questions that need answers. So, to learn more about what it’s really like to age after a brain injury, be sure to keep reading.
As we grow older, our minds and bodies start to become unable to function as well as they used to. This is just a natural part of ageing.
However, the effects we all feel when we grow older can sometimes be exacerbated for anyone that has suffered a traumatic brain injury.
A significant brain injury will usually have a drastic impact of an individual’s cognitive ability, and this is only likely to decline further with age. A 2015 study found that, following a traumatic brain injury, secondary processes can lead to increased brain damage for years afterwards.
The risk of and dementia generally increases with age, but research has shown that there is a link between moderate and severe traumatic brain injuries and a greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s or another dementia years after the original injury occurred.
One study found that older adults with a history of moderate brain injuries had a 2.3 times greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s than people the same age without any history. Those with a history of serious brain injuries had a 4.5 times greater risk.
A brain injury can also have significant effects on the body as someone grows older. There are a number of different conditions that can develop over time as a result of a brain injury, such as:
This is where someone loses muscle function, strength and mass. It’s a normal consequence of growing older, but people with a brain injury are likely to see an increase due to a comparative lack of physical activity.
Those who have suffered a brain injury are also at increased risk of suffering from a cardiovascular disease as they grow older. Cardiovascular diseases are commonly associated with the heart or blood vessels, but they can also relate to other organs, such as the kidneys and eyes.
Communication problems following brain injuries are very common – whether they are caused by physical, cognitive, emotional or behavioural changes resulting from the injury.
A prime example of a communication problem that can arise from a brain injury is aphasia. This may not be an immediate issue for the injured person, but it can slowly develop over time, presenting complications later on in life.
Fortunately, not everything is doom and gloom. In fact, there are plenty of ways in which the negative effect of growing older with a brain injury can be managed and mitigated. Here are just a few:
Fitting regular periods of physical exercise into the schedule of someone with a brain injury is increasingly important the older they get. While certain exercises may not be possible depending on the extent of the brain injury, it’s still important to work with those parameters to find simple exercises that do work.
As illustrated above, plenty of the effects on the body associated with a brain injury can be alleviated with regular exercise, so it’s importance shouldn’t be underestimated!
It’s always important for people to mentally stimulate themselves as they grow older. This could be done by working on problem-solving skills through the use of simple techniques, like puzzles. Engaging the brain by taking part in activities, like reading, can also help.
Through this, some of the cognitive issues that are associated with brain injuries can be managed.
The social bonds that people form when they have suffered a brain injury are absolutely crucial. When we talk to our friends and family, we keep our brain engaged and our general mood is likely to improve as a result. This is especially important for anyone when they grow older.
The difference that a healthy, balanced diet can make is truly staggering. When we carefully keep an eye on what we consume, it’s not just our body which reaps the benefits – our brains do as well.
A diet that’s packed full of important and varied nutrients is essential for anyone who is dealing with the adverse effects of a brain injury; even more so as they get older.
Anyone who has suffered a brain injury will always be on the backfoot – especially in their later years. That said, as you can see, there are plenty of ways to help someone through such a difficult time. We hope these tips will help you to manage growing older post-injury.
Please be advised that this article is for general informational purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for advice from a trained medical professional. Be sure to consult a medical professional or healthcare provider if you’re seeking medical or mental health advice, diagnoses, or treatment. We are not liable for risks or issues associated with using or acting upon the information on this site.
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