Do activities that are engaging and enjoyable
Keeping the person with a brain injury engaged and entertained is good for their emotional well-being and their brain. This includes hobbies they enjoy, meeting with friends, and anything else that brings them joy. It’s also helpful to complete activities that pose a bit of a challenge. It stimulates their cognitive process, can have physical benefits, and can give them goals to work towards.
Have regular medical checkups
It’s important as we age to have regular medical checkups. Individuals often spend a lot of time in rehabilitation and treatment for brain injury, but the rest of the body needs checkups too. Medical professionals will provide advice on exercise, diet, and other parts of the person’s overall health.
Make sure they are in an appropriate living situation
In some cases, seniors are not able to live alone or at home. As you both age, you may no longer be able to care for the person with a brain injury. In these cases, long-term care homes may be the most appropriate option. Many long-term care homes are specifically equipped for seniors, making them a safe, and comfortable choice. Many are also equipped for individuals with specific needs, including the effects of brain injury.
If the person with a brain injury is moving into a long-term care home or is completing rehabilitation while in a long-term care home, there may be some adjustments they need to make.
- Establish new routines. Routines are a great way to reinforce memory, familiarize them with new places, and stay organized
- Create a plan for adjusting to the new environment
- Work with healthcare professionals on rehabilitation plans. They may have to complete activities and therapies a little differently in long-term care..
Make sure they are well-rested
Fatigue is a common effect of brain injury. It’s also common in seniors; it takes more energy to complete actions or tasks. That’s why it’s incredibly important for the person with a brain injury to prioritize a good night’s sleep, take rests, and not push themselves too far.
If the person with a brain injury struggles with balance or mobility or wants to take extra precautions against falls:
- Arrange furniture so they have plenty of space to walk
- Avoid putting frequently used items on high shelves
- Avoid wet, slippery floors, and don’t let water build up on walkways or driveways
- Clean up any spills or dropped food right away
- Have plenty of light so they can easily see where they are going
- Install gates and handrails on staircases
- Keep drawers and cabinet doors closed
- Never let them stand on a chair, a table, or any surface that has wheels
- Remove clutter from your walkways outside, and keep the paths inside your home free from tripping hazards (boxes, books, clothes, toys, shoes, unsecured rugs)
- Secure any cords safely out of the way
- Make sure they wear shoes with good support and slip-resistant bottoms
Keep the person active within their community
Keep in touch with friends, family, and community. The person with the brain injury should go for lunches, participate in community activities, volunteer, or stay in touch through phone calls, emails, and in-person get-togethers. This will reduce their risk of social isolation and cultivate a strong support system.
Support their mental and physical health
Staying healthy and active is an important part of aging. This includes eating well, exercising, and taking care of mental health and wellbeing. There are many ways to create a healthy lifestyle as they age.
- Learning new, easy meals to make at home
- Keeping a journal to share their thoughts and feelings
- Taking daily walks
- Using appropriate correction equipment for hearing and vision loss. I.e. hearing aids and glasses
Aging as a caregiver
As you age, you may not be able to care for the friend or family member with a brain injury due to changes in mobility, cognitive capacity, or a lack of energy. While this is tough to face, it’s important to think about what will happen to the person with a brain injury if/when you are no longer able to take care of them. Creating a long-term life plan when you first become a caregiver will take the stress out of the process, as well as prepare you both for emergency situations.
- More information on long term care options for people with brain injury