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Impact of brain injuries differs with age; elders have big risks

We recently discussed how gender may affect brain injuries, but the impact of age is often overlooked once the victim reaches adulthood. New research shows that just 10-year age difference can tremendously impact the patient's outlook.

The California study revealed that mild concussions after age 65 can significantly increase one's chance of developing dementia. It is commonly accepted that repeated brain injuries, such as those associated with pro athletes in violent sports, can lead to dementia and chronic traumatic encephalopathy. The new research, however, shows how a seemingly minor concussion in the senior years can have a near-immediate and profound impact.

There are a couple of key takeaways:

  • Seniors' exposure to brain injuries should be minimized. Walkers and other safety equipment should be used to minimize falls. If you think it is time for Mom or Dad to hang up the car keys, be relentless and offer your own assistance.
  • Doctors need to recognize the increased risk for dementia when a retirement-age patient suffers a brain injury. There are measures for combating dementia but they are most successful when they are implemented early.

Young or old, brain injuries require medical attention. Memory loss, mood swings and depression commonly affect brain injury victims of all ages.

Source: WebMD, "Brain Injuries In Older Age And Dementia Risk," Randy Dotinga, Oct. 27, 2014

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