Traumatic Brain Injury Recovery: What to Expect

senior with caregiver holding hands talking

Traumatic brain injury recovery can be supported by an in-home caregiver.

A traumatic brain injury (or TBI) is not uncommon in older adults and is frequently caused by a fall or following a car accident. TBIs are the result of a traumatic injury or blow to the head or body, and the amount of damage depends on both the nature of the injury and the force of impact.

During traumatic brain injury recovery, older adults may experience a variety of symptoms – some that impact an individual temporarily, while other symptoms may be longer lasting and result in long-term complications. Symptoms can appear immediately following a traumatic event, or can take days or even weeks to appear. If an older loved one has recently fallen or been in a car accident, it’s important that he or she is seen by a doctor in order to assess whether or not a brain injury has occurred, and if so, to determine the severity of the injury.

TBI Treatment

Treatment for TBIs is directly related to the severity of the injury. Mild concussions or TBIs usually require no treatment beyond rest and over-the-counter pain relievers for headaches. Doctors will typically advise older adults with mild TBIs to rest and to limit physical and cognitive activities. This includes limiting screen time, exposure to bright lights and loud noises, and refraining from activities that would cause the head or neck to jostle around.

Older adults with moderate to severe TBIs may require surgery, prescription medications, and working with rehabilitation specialists on either an in-patient or out-patient basis. Severe TBIs may require that an older adult relearn basic skills, such as talking, walking or eating. For recovery from a severe TBI, individuals may work with a team of healthcare professionals such as physical and occupational therapists, speech and language therapists, psychologists, and more. Together, the team works to help improve the older adult’s abilities and restore as much independence as possible.

Support Following a TBI

TBIs can impact an older adult’s abilities to perform everyday activities such as dressing and preparing meals, as well as communication and interpersonal relationships, making recovery emotionally and physically trying. Because of this, it’s important to have the support of family members and friends to help the individual by implementing the following approaches:

  • Write things down. Short- and long-term memory may be impacted following a TBI. Keep a small notebook or use the notes feature on a smartphone to record important information such as people’s names, events, and tasks.
  • Maintain a routine. Keeping a consistent schedule and also ensuring regularly used items are always kept in designated places helps to limit confusion. It’s also a good practice to take the same routes to and from frequently visited destinations.
  • Adjust expectations. Following a TBI, it’s important to allow additional time to complete tasks. Another helpful approach is to break complex tasks into smaller steps. Understand that while the brain is healing, it’s normal to need to slow down and focus on one thing at a time.
  • Join a support group. Ask the senior’s physician for information about TBI support groups that meet locally, either in person or online. These groups can offer support and provide a safe space to discuss issues related to a TBI, as well as offering coping strategies.

In addition, a knowledgeable caregiver, like those from Visiting Care Giving Services, can help older adults with traumatic brain injury recovery in a variety of way such as:

  • Assistance with personal care needs such as bathing, dressing and using the bathroom
  • Planning and preparing nourishing meals and snacks
  • Encouragement for physician-approved exercises
  • Shopping, running errands and picking up prescriptions
  • Friendly companionship
  • Accompanied transportation to physical therapy, doctors’ appointments, or social outings
  • Private duty nursing care
  • Respite care for family caregivers
  • And so much more

For additional information on in-home care from Visiting Care Giving Services, a knowledgeable and dependable Chesterfield senior advocate, reach out to us today at (636) 493-9058 in Missouri and at (618) 366-9058 in Illinois to schedule an in-home consultation. For a full list of all of the communities where we provide care, please visit our Service Area page.