How common are severe head injuries in older adults?

Head injuries can happen to anyone. However, older adults in North Carolina and elsewhere face significantly higher risks of severe ones. Why is this the case?

Why are head injuries common in older people?

Head injuries occur in older adults mostly from falls. The elderly are frailer and have more of fall risk. Those who have multiple medical conditions are also more likely to suffer from falls and sustain a severe head injury. Men are more likely to suffer from such injuries. People age 75 and older are the most likely to experience severe head injuries such as traumatic brain injury.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 80,000 older adults suffer from severe head injuries annually. Three-quarters of them end up in the hospital. Many older adults end up with bleeding in the brain due to taking anticoagulant medications. Those medications can increase the risk of bleeding even in a mild head injury.

Certain issues increase the risk as well. Older individuals with sleep disorders, a history of stroke, and those not in good overall health as well as smokers and drinkers have a higher risk of suffering serious head injuries.

How can these injuries be prevented?

Older adults are more likely to suffer serious head injuries from a fall. Unfortunately, one fall can lead to more, which can increase the risk of a severe head injury and TBI, specifically. There are steps that can be taken to prevent falls, which can reduce the risk of serious head injuries. They include the following:

• Strength training
• Balance exercises
• Wearing well-fitting shoes with traction on the soles
• Eliminating hazards that can cause trips, slips and falls
• Staying hydrated to prevent dizziness and low blood pressure

With the right preventive measures, older adults can be better protected from falls, which can give them better odds at avoiding head injuries.

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