No one is prepared to have a loved one experience a traumatic brain injury. Milder cases have temporary symptoms that disappear with time. However, severe TBI can mean living with long-term consequences.
Taking care of a senior in the family who is suffering from TBI will involve a unique set of challenges and hurdles, but it just takes some patience and effort. Firstly, it is important to know what responsibilities you will have in caring for your loved one and assisting them with neurological disorders treatment.
Here are things to note as you watch over your aging family members.
Changes and Symptoms in a Loved One with TBI
There are physical and psychological changes involved in experiencing TBI. Some appear immediately, while others begin manifesting after days or weeks.
For mild TBI such as a concussion, survivors often experience headaches and nausea, leading to vomiting. They may also feel fatigued or drowsy.
Severe cases will have similar symptoms as mild injuries but in varying degrees. These may also be accompanied by seizures and slurred speech, or other speech difficulties.
Effects on Personality
An unfortunate consequence of brain injury is its effect on someone’s personality. The incidents that caused the injury can change how the brain processes information, which inevitably affects how people manage their emotions. This can manifest as irritability, erratic mood swings, anxiety, or depression.
When dealing with the difficulties of a change in behavior, remember that your loved one is the same person. TBI has just introduced the challenge of managing the mood changes that come with the condition.
Even those who suffer from concussions can deal with its effects months after their recovery. These symptoms can go away with time, however, when given the proper medical attention.
It is also important to note that the location of the injury contributes to the severity of its effects on one’s emotions and personality. For instance, the hippocampus helps a person process memories, which can be impaired after an accident. The whole limbic system, on the other hand, is in charge of emotional responses. Brain trauma could affect behavioral and emotional capabilities.
Helping Your Senior Loved Ones with TBI
Knowing what a senior suffering from TBI goes through, you are better equipped to provide the care they need daily.
1. Continue educating yourself about their condition.
Your loved one’s brain injury will have different effects from the next person’s. Listen to medical professionals and their advice so that you can understand what your aging loved one’s brain injury entails.
Accompany your loved one in their treatments and doctor’s appointments to know what the road to recovery will look like and what you should do to assist them in it. Remember that whatever research you’ve done online should also be verified with the doctor.
2. Find ways to overcome communication gaps.
TBI can cause temporary or long-term speech impediments. While it is best to seek the help of a speech pathologist to address your concerns, the results do not always come quickly. Understand that when you approach your loved one, they might be unable to find the proper way to express what they are thinking.
Be patient and repeat your words calmly. Do not lose your composure or get angry when you can’t understand them. Take input from their speech pathologist as well on alternative methods of communication.
Help them, too, by writing reminders and instructions down should they experience any memory lapses. These visual reminders let them accomplish tasks without needing to ask for help each time.
3. Help, but give them room to be independent.
Help is necessary during their time recovering. However, attempting to do everything on their behalf can get in the way of their confidence in themselves and their overall recovery.
With simple tasks that they are capable of accomplishing, let them be. Allow them to keep doing these same tasks daily to build a routine, which can reinforce memory and help them regain abilities they temporarily lost due to the injury. A routine also provides a sense of organization that is important, especially since they can feel overwhelmed or confused by the whole situation at times.
Encouragement Is Necessary
While taking care of them can be tough, suffering from a brain injury is a tougher battle to fight. Show your support by having an encouraging tone when you speak. Meet their little victories with positive reinforcement and be there to cheer for their accomplishments.
These little acts of kindness can alleviate the emotional burden of the changes in their bodies, making recovery more comfortable for your loved one.