Sleep Disruption with TBI's

Many people who have brain injuries suffer from sleep disturbances.  Sleep is a complex process that involves many parts of the brain.  The brain directs sleep by putting your body to rest.  When you injure your brain, it can lead to many changes in sleep.  For this reason, and depending on the location and the extent of the injury, many different kinds of sleep disturbances can occur after a brain injury.  Not sleeping well can increase or worsen depression, anxiety, fatigue, irritability, and one’s sense of well-being.  It can also lead to poor work performance and traffic or workplace accidents.  A review of sleep disorders studies and surveys revealed that a sleep disorder is three times more coming in TBI patients than in the general population.  Women are more likely to be affected, as are the elderly. 

Some common sleep disorders include:

Insomnia-difficulty with falling asleep or staying asleep or sleep that does not make you feel rested.  Insomnia can worsen other problems resulting from brain injuries, including behavioral and cognitive difficulties.  Insomnia makes it harder to learn new things, and is typically worse directly after injury, and often improves as time passes.   

Excessive Daytime Sleepiness.

Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome-Mixed up sleeping patterns.

Narcolepsy- Falling asleep suddenly and uncontrollably during the day.

Common sleep syndromes include:

Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS): Urge to move the legs because they feel comfortable, especially at night or when lying down. 

Bruxism: Grinding or clenching teeth.

Sleep Apnea: Brief pauses in breathing during sleep, resulting in reduced oxygen flow to the brain and causing loud snoring and frequent awakening.

Periodic limb movement disorder (PLMD): Involuntary movement of legs and arms during sleep. 

Sleepwalking: Walking or performing other activities while sleeping and not being aware of it.

Things You Can Do to Improve Sleep:

Set an alarm to try to wake up at the same time every day.

Include meaningful activities in your daily schedule.

Get off the couch and limit TV watching

Exercise every day.

Try to get outdoor for some sunlight during daytime. 

Don’t nap for more than 20 minutes a day.

Go to bed at the same time every night.

Follow a bedtime routing.

Avoid caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, and sugar for five hours before bedtime.

Avoid eating prior to sleep to allow time to digest, but also do not go to bed hungry.

Do not eat, read, or watch TV while in bed.

Keep stress out of the bedroom.  Do not work or pay bills there.

Create a restful atmosphere in the bedroom.

If you don’t fall asleep in 30 minutes, get out of bed and do something relaxing or boring until you feel sleepy.  

Memory Loss... Is it normal, or the beginnings of Alzheimer's?

As people age, it's normal to have occasional memory problems, such as forgetting the name of a person you've recently met. However, Alzheimer's is more than occasional memory loss. It's a disease that causes brain cells to malfunction and ultimately die. When this happens, an individual may forget the name of a longtime friend, or what roads to take to return to a home they've lived in for decades.

It can be difficult to tell normal memory problems from memory problems that should be a cause for concern. The Alzheimer's Association has developed information to help you tell the difference. If you or a loved one has memory problems or other problems with thinking and learning that concern you, contact a physician. Sometimes the problems are caused by medication side effects, vitamin deficiencies or other conditions and can be reversed with treatment. The memory and thinking problems may also be caused by another type of dementia.

We are all forgetful from time to time. Given the growing attention to Alzheimer's in the news these days, many of us, especially senior citizens, have a nagging worry about it. Could it be happening to us? Could we be getting Alzheimer's?

Here are the most often cited list of signs of Alzheimer's Disease as posted from the Alzheimer's Association:

1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life
2. Challenges in planning or solving problems
3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks
4. Confusion with time or place
5. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
6. New problems with words in speaking or writing
7. Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
8. Decreased or poor judgment
9. Withdrawal from work or social activities
10. Changes in mood and personality

In reading this list, you should consider a couple of things. 

First is that the severity and frequency of a given symptom is important. For example, if a person is an accountant and becomes completely unable to balance the checkbook this may be reason for concern. But occasionally making an error while working on the checkbook is probably not something you should worry about. The second thing is that, as mentioned above, the symptoms of Alzheimer's typically disrupt daily life while signs of normal aging usually do not.

With normal aging, we may forget where we parked at the mall, but with Alzheimer's we may forget how we got to the mall. Forgetting the names of people you rarely see can be normal, while forgetting the names of people close to you can be an early sign of Alzheimer's.
Misplacing things from time to time may be normal. But putting things in very unusual places and accusing others of stealing them could be of concern. I give the following example: If you put your glasses in a desk drawer when you normally put them on the top of the desk, that's one thing. But putting them in the freezer or on a high shelf in the garage or in a suitcase kept in the basement is another altogether.

Here are two circumstances that you might experience that may lead you to contact your doctor. First, if you are experiencing the type of memory issues indicated above as possible signs of Alzheimer's, it would be a good idea to write examples down and take it to a neurologist or family physician. Second, even if you aren't having such memory problems, but you're still overly worried about your memory, it might be worth a trip to the doctor. In the very least, it will ease your mind of worries that may turn out to be nothing!

Ways to Prevent Falls-Be Proactive!

Falls are a common occurrence with Seniors.  A study done among Seniors found that preventing falls, and the resulting injuries from these falls, can reduce or delay the need to move to a long-term care facility.  In fact, falls are the leading cause of injury death among older adults.  Here are a few tips to help you gain confidence to maintain your independence.  

Health and age related changes often attribute to falls.  Some of these include problems with balance, slow reflexes, poor eyesight, and use of certain medication.  If you are aware of these changes occurring, make sure that you take precautions while being mobile.  

Dangerous situation in the homes also attribute to falls.  To prevent this from happening, assess your living situation and take proactive measures to ensure your safety.  Some things to be aware of in your home are slippery floors, poor lighting, electrical cords in pathways, loose rugs, raised thresholds, and clutter.  Try these tips to help make the inside of your home safe:

Remove all extraneous clutter in your home.  Keep telephone and electrical cords out of pathways.  Tack rugs and glue vinyl flooring so they lie flat.  Remove or replace rugs or runners that tend to slip or attach non-slip backing.  Do not stand on chairs to reach for things.  Store frequently used items where you can conveniently reach them.  Keep a well-lit home, inside and out!  Use nightlights and keep flashlights handy. Install handrails on both sides of the stairs to keep you steady.   

In your bathroom, add grab bars in the shower, tub, and toilet area.  Use non-slip adhesive strips inside the shower or tub.  Consider getting a stool or bench to use in the shower.  

For outside of your home, paint the outdoor steps with a mixture of sand and paint for better traction.  Keep outdoor walkways clear, and well-lit.  Make sure snow and ice are kept clear from entrances and sidewalks.  

We hope that these tips have been useful in making your home as safe as possible for you.  Our ultimate goal is to keep people safely in their homes, and help them maintain their independence as long as possible!

A good example of the way to maintain                                                  A bad example of how to maintain                a room                                                                                                           a room.                                                                                                                       


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