Traumatic brain injuries can happen to anyone, but when they affect an older individual, the effects can be life-altering. Caused by car accidents, violent injuries, falls, or blows to the head, traumatic brain injuries don’t always leave visible scars and could therefore go untreated for a period of time. However, they can cause memory loss, physical and cognitive changes, and mood and concentration, meaning behavior can drastically change as well.
It’s important to take very good care of yourself following a brain injury, and while there are obvious activities you should avoid, there may be some that you haven’t considered. Taking precautions and treating your body well will ensure that you cope with the injury effectively and learn to live with it day to day, which is necessary in some instances where the injury presents itself long-term.
Here are some of the best wellness tips for living with a traumatic brain injury.
It may seem like a small thing, but taking care of yourself will go a long way towards healing. That means getting enough sleep every night, eating well-balanced meals, and getting (gentle) exercise daily. Ask your doctor when you can expect to engage in physical activity before starting any fitness routines and make sure that when you’re ready, you start gradually rather than jumping in. Even if you feel energized, it’s not a good idea to go too fast following a brain injury. Do not engage in exercise that includes contact sports, as this can lead to further injury.
Because drugs and alcohol affect the brain in different ways, it’s best not to drink or consume any drugs other than your prescribed medication while you’re recovering. Even a glass of wine with dinner could be harmful to your healing. If you enjoy drinking socially, ask your doctor when you might be able to continue doing so. Be careful even with your prescribed medications and don’t take them more than instructed. Addiction is very legitimate threat to seniors, particularly for pain medications.
Ask for help
You might be eager to prove to everyone that you can take care of all the things you once did, especially if you had a long recovery in the hospital. However, it’s best to refrain from doing physically demanding chores, such as cleaning the house or gardening, or engaging in activities that require a lot of focus. These things can do more harm than good and can slow down the healing process.
Keep a journal
Some victims of traumatic brain injury report that they have trouble remembering things or focusing on more than one task. Do not try to multi-task; rather, engage in one thing at a time and go slowly if you need to. Keeping a journal, or even a small notebook on the kitchen counter or next to your favorite chair, will help your memory if you use it to write down to-do lists and phone numbers.
Remember to reach out to friends or family if you feel overwhelmed. You may think that asking for help makes you burdensome, but for the people who love you, it’s a simple thing to drop what they’re doing and give you assistance.
Thanks to ElderAction.org for writing this post. ElderAction.org is a website that Caroline James and her husband put together to help elderly caregivers like themselves do better in making our beloveds enjoy life.
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About the Doc
Dr. Bryan Weinstein is a practicing psychiatrist with certification from the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. He has practiced psychiatric pharmacology and psychotherapy since 1997. Dr. Weinstein is the CEO of Life Skills Village.