Concussions aren’t just an issue for football players. Older people are suffering concussions and other brain injuries at an alarming rate, according to new research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Of all age groups, people ages 75 and older had the highest risk for brain injuries. In 2013, one in 45 Americans this age sustained a brain injury leading to an emergency room visit, hospital stay, or death.
Falls caused most of these brain injuries. As you age, your vision and reflexes may become less sharp. In addition, you may take medicines or have health conditions that increase your risk of falling.
Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) result from a blow or jolt to the head that disrupts normal brain functioning. A concussion is considered a mild TBI. Yet it can still have serious effects. Symptoms may include:
Trouble thinking clearly
Irritability or anxiety
Luckily, most falls are avoidable. Take these steps to protect yourself:
Do exercises, such as tai chi, that improve your balance.
Get your vision checked every year.
Keep your home well-lit. Remove items you could trip over.
Ask your doctor to assess your risk of falling, including reviewing any medicines you take or talking about conditions that may make you more vulnerable. Discuss specific ways to reduce your risk.