As you get older, your body becomes frailer, and your bones become more brittle. A stumble on the sidewalk may lead to a broken hip–when, as a child, it would’ve only left a bruise. This is an expected part of the aging process.

But did you know that in addition to weakening bones, your brain also becomes more susceptible to injury with age?

How your brain ages

As we age, we begin to shrink. We may become shorter and thinner. But you may be surprised to learn that your brain also shrinks with age. Cognitively, a smaller brain functions just as well as a larger one. However, a smaller brain does increase susceptibility to injury.

Your brain is held in the center of your head by thin veins that connect to your skull. When you brain gets smaller, these veins must stretch further to do their job. In the event of an injury that causes trauma to the head, these veins are more likely to get damaged. This can lead to bleeding and hematoma in your brain.

The risks

Older adults are more likely than younger people to slip and fall. According to the Centers for Disease Control, falls are the leading cause of traumatic brain injury (TBI) in adults 75 and older. Slip and fall-induced TBIs are also the leading cause of death for adults 65 and over.

Know the warning signs

Unfortunately, many people aren’t aware of the risks of brain injury from a fall. They’re unfamiliar with the warning signs and fail to get the problem diagnosed in time to help them recover. If you or an elderly loved one sustains a fall, watch for these symptoms:

  • Incontinence
  • Difficulty balancing
  • Memory problems
  • Generalized confusion

Falling down can be embarrassing, but it’s not necessarily your fault. If you slip and fall on someone else’s property, it may be due to their negligence. In such cases, you can seek compensation for your injuries–including a TBI.

It’s important to see a doctor anytime you suffer an injury to the head. An early diagnosis of brain injury can greatly increase your chance of recovery.