Can Dementia Result from a Head Injury?

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Dementia is a multifactorial disorder caused by a complex mix of genetics, lifestyle choices, environmental factors, and more. It’s rarely caused by a single factor. While head injuries may not directly cause dementia, they can certainly increase the risk for developing it.

Traumatic Brain Injury

When scientists study the link between head injuries and dementia, they usually assess cases classified as traumatic brain injuries, which can range in severity from mild to moderate to severe. All traumatic brain injuries meet one basic criterion: the impact to the head disrupts normal cognitive function. After sustaining a traumatic brain injury, a senior may have immediate symptoms such as unconsciousness and an inability to remember the traumatic event. Other symptoms may persist long after the event. Depending on the part of the brain the injury affects, symptoms can range from verbal aphasia to loss of coordination. Considering the potential impact on cognitive health, it’s not surprising that head injuries can increase the risk of dementia.

Seniors with head injuries often need assistance with everyday activities while they recover. If your senior loved one has been diagnosed with a serious condition and needs help with tasks like meal prep, transportation, bathing, and grooming, reach out to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of elder care Victoria, BC, families can trust. We also offer comprehensive care for seniors with dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s.

Risk Factors

Seniors who have experienced traumatic brain injuries in the past may be more likely to develop dementia, depending on the extent and frequency of the trauma. Moderate traumatic brain injury increases the risk by a factor of 2.3, and severe traumatic brain injury increases the risk by a factor of 4.5. While a single injury may not increase the risk by much, repeated injuries can have a more significant impact. People who play sports are more likely to experience repeated injuries than people who don’t lead high-impact lifestyles, but seniors should still take steps to prevent brain injuries.

Timeline

Concussions and other brain injuries can have both short-term and long-term impacts on cognitive health. In the year following a traumatic brain injury, seniors are over four times more likely to receive a dementia diagnosis. While injuries can accelerate the progression of dementia in the short term, they can also influence the development of dementia years later. Some seniors are still affected by injuries they sustained 30 years earlier.

Seniors with dementia, no matter what the cause, can optimize their quality of life with the help of a highly trained, experienced professional caregiver. If your senior loved one needs professional dementia care, Victoria caregivers are available around the clock to provide the high-quality care he or she needs. Using the revolutionary Cognitive Therapeutics Method, dementia caregivers can help your loved one stay mentally engaged and delay the progression of the disease.

The Protein Connection

Scientists don’t yet have a clear understanding of dementia, but many believe that brain injury and dementia are linked because they exhibit similar protein abnormalities. After a traumatic brain injury, the brain’s levels of beta-amyloid plaques increase to potentially damaging levels. This protein is also a hallmark of Alzheimer’s.

Preventing Brain Injuries

For older adults, falls are the leading cause of brain injuries. While younger adults may recover quickly from traumatic injuries, the impact on older adults can be devastating. For seniors, a severe brain injury can lead to permanent cognitive changes and a long-term reduction in functionality—even if they don’t develop dementia. To prevent injury, seniors and their caregivers should implement basic safety measures by removing household hazards, such as loose rugs and cords, and installing safety equipment, such as grab bars and nonslip bathroom mats. Poor vision can lead to falls as well, so seniors should update their glasses prescriptions regularly. They should also watch out for medication side effects, as many of the medications commonly prescribed to seniors can cause dizziness or fainting.

If your loved one has experienced a head injury or is living with dementia, having a trained professional caregiver close by can provide you and your family with much-needed peace of mind. Not every senior has the same care needs, which means they don’t all need the same type of in-home care. Victoria families can rely on Home Care Assistance to provide individualized care plans to meet your elderly loved one’s unique care needs. Our holistic Balanced Care Method was designed to help seniors focus on healthy lifestyle habits such as eating nutritious foods, exercising regularly, and maintaining strong social ties, and our Cognitive Therapeutics Method offers mentally stimulating activities that can stave off cognitive decline and delay the onset of dementia. Reach out to one of our Care Managers today at (250) 592-4881 to learn more about our high-quality home care services.