Can A Brain Injury (For Example An Auto Accident)cause Alzheimers In Elderly People?

Question

Asked by Donna

Can A Brain Injury (For Example An Auto Accident)cause Alzheimers In Elderly People?

My 89 year old grandmother was in a serious auto accident in November '07. She was independant and in good health prior to that. Since the accident, she has spiraled downhill, especially mentally. Last week she was diagnosed with Alzheimers. I have read information from several websites, and she seems to have skipped over the first 3 stages and is already in the combative, suspicious stage. She can no longer be left alone and she has a significant memory loss. She asks the same questions over and over and accuses my mother, her caregiver, of mistreating her.

Could the accident have caused the onset of this? Could it be something else that may be more treatable? My grandmother is gone and this shell of person is left and it has happened very quickly.

Answer

Dear Donna,

I understand that your grandmother was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease after getting into an automobile accident. After seeing her live independently for so many years, I imagine it is difficult for you to deal with these sudden, unexpected changes. It's understandable that many questions and concerns can arise after seeing this dramatic shift. Although a doctor is the only one who can determine the underlying reason for these changes, I would like you to know that a serious accident can indeed contribute to your grandmother's decline. If an accident causes injury to the brain and skull, the underlying brain tissue could be damaged and affect the individual's cognition as a result. This damage can be temporary or permanent depending on the impact of the injury. In some cases, functioning can return and the individual improves with time. Again, consultation with a qualified healthcare professional will provide insight.

You said that your grandmother has received a diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease. It is important to remember that while Alzheimer's disease is a progressive, degenerative illness, you should consult with a doctor about all modes of treatment. There are medications that can help slow down the progression of symptoms. In addition, you can take measures to increase your grandmother's quality of life. In the meantime, make the most out of her current abilities. Mental stimulation, physical exercise and good nutrition will all contribute to her mental status. Any activity that she is capable of doing should be pursued, even if it seems insignificant, because this will stimulate brain areas and may stabilize her functioning or possibly restore some functioning over time. Consult with a recreational therapist for ideas. Although she may not be the same person you remember, she can still offer a great deal.