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If your elderly parent falls, look for symptoms of brain injury

When you were a kid, falling down was no big deal. You'd skin your knee, apply a bandage and move on with your day. But as you get older, falling down can take a heavier toll on the body. Your bones become less resilient. If you slip on a wet floor at the grocery store, you risk shattering your hip.

While you may be aware of your body's increasing fragility with age, did you know that your brain also becomes more fragile? For older adults, a slip and fall may not just lead to a broken bone--it could also lead to brain damage.

How your brain ages

As you grow older, your body begins to shrink. And your brain follows suit. Cognition and intellect have no relation to brain size. However, a smaller brain affects you in other ways.

Your brain is smaller than your skull, but it manages to stay in the center of your head--rather than bouncing around from side to side--because of bridging veins. These thin strands hold your brain in the right position.

However, as your brain becomes smaller, the bridging veins have to stretch further to do their job. This makes them tighter and more fragile. In the event of trauma to the head, the bridging veins can become damaged--leading to traumatic brain injury (TBI).

TBI and you

Nearly 80 percent of all people who sustain TBI are at least 65 years old, and falls are the leading cause of TBI. Yet most people don't realize that older adults who fall are at risk of this type of injury--and fail to look for the symptoms. These include:

  • Urinary incontinence
  • Balance difficulties
  • Memory loss--or an abrupt worsening of preexisting memory loss
  • Confusion

If you slip or trip on someone else's property due to someone else's negligence, it's important to seek damages for all of your injuries--mental as well as physical.

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