Aging with a Brain Injury

Aging with a Brain Injury

Mary R. Hibbard, Ph.D.
Aging brings changes in cognitive abilities, such as memory and organization. Survivors of brain injury who already have cognitive impairments often fear that aging will worsen their cognition. This tip card addresses common questions of aging adults with brain injury about the risks of dementia, Alzheimer's disease, repeated head injuries, memory and dependence.
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Full Description

Information on aging after brain injury discusses common concerns of survivors and families. It corrects common misunderstandings about acquired brain injury and the development of Alzheimer’s disease, worsening memory, decision-making, repeated injuries, shortened life span, and dependence with aging. Tips and strategies are given for older adults and families on healthy aging.

Details
Item AGE
Pages 8
Year 2007, second printing

Authors

Mary R. Hibbard, Ph.D.

Dr. Hibbard ABPP is a Professor of Rehabilitation Medicine and Psychiatry, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, NY. She is an American Board of Professional Psychology Diplomate with a specialty in Rehabilitation Psychology. She serves on the board of the American Board of Rehabilitation Psychology and is the Secretary of Division 22 (Rehabilitation Psychology) of the American Psychological Association. Dr. Hibbard is an active clinical researcher who has been the recipient of NIH and NIDRR grants focused on traumatic brain injury (TBI). Currently, she serves as the Director of Training for the NIDRR funded Research and Training Center on TBI Interventions, and Training Director of two advanced training programs: a NIDRR funded advanced rehabilitation research postdoctoral fellowship, and an American Psychological Association accredited clinical pre-doctoral internship program. Finally, Dr. Hibbard maintains an active private practice focused on neuropsychological assessment and interventions with individuals with acquired brain injuries. She has published and presented widely in the area of clinical neuropsychology, rehabilitation psychology and traumatic brain injury. Dr. Hibbard is the recipient of the Ted Weiss Consumer Advocacy Award from the Brain Injury Association of New York State, and the David Strauss Ph.D., Memorial Award from the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine.

Contents

This tip card helps therapists, clinicians, individuals and families...

  • correct common misunderstandings
  • provide updated information
  • make changes for healthy living

Growing Older

Concern

  • “My memory was poor after my brain injury.  It seems to be getting worse now as I get older.  Will my memory continue to decline as I age?”

Facts

  • Cognitive tips for persons aging with brain injury

Concern

  • “Ever since I had my brain injury, I worry that I will end up with Alzheimer’s disease when I get older.”

Facts

  • Medical tips for persons aging with brain injury

Concern

  • “Does having one brain injury mean that I am more likely to have another brain injury as I age?” 

Facts

  • Safety tips for persons aging with brain injury

Concern

  • “Will my life span be shortened because of my brain injury?”

Facts

  • Lifestyle tips for persons aging with brain injury

Concern

  •  “I already rely on others to help me with everyday tasks. What will happen when I am older…will I need to plan for additional help?”

Facts

  • Planning tips for persons aging with brain injury

Conclusion

References

Excerpts

Sample excerpt. Preview only – please do not copy.

Growing Older

More individuals who have survived a brain injury are getting older. Many are concerned about the long-term effects of their brain injury and fear a further decline in thinking abilities or worry about developing Alzheimer’s disease. Others worry about having another brain injury. Studies about the long-term effects of brain injury are just beginning, so there are many unanswered questions.

Concerns

“My memory was poor after my brain injury. It seems to be getting worse now as I get older. Will my memory continue to decline as I age?”

“Making decisions was much harder after my brain injury. But now that I am getting older, my ability to make decisions is even worse.”

Facts

Almost everybody has natural declines in thinking and problem solving with aging. Typical complaints are worsening memory, slowed responses, difficulty concentrating, and trouble thinking flexibly – especially in new situations.

These “normal” changes with aging add to the challenges of a person with a brain injury. Some individuals with brain injury report they have more cognitive (thinking and learning) difficulties as they get older. Others are less aware of changes, yet families report losses in the person’s overall functioning. Some individuals have called these changes “premature aging after brain injury”.

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