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Elders TBI Resource Line: 844-839-7154


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Joanne Susi

"It's the difference between surviving and thriving...and I'm thriving here."Joanne Susi was BIA-MA's keynote speaker at the 35th Annual Brian Injury Conference. On March 16, 2011, Joanne Susi's life was transformed. After three long years in a nursing home, she moved into the community as a result of the ABI Waiver Program. Read Joanne's story

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Elders with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) in Massachusetts

The Facts
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is the leading cause of Acquired Brain Injury (ABI). TBI among older adults is one of the leading causes of death and disability in Massachusetts and across the United States. Falls are the leading cause of TBI in adults 60 and older. 

Approximately 16,000 Massachusetts elders will sustain a TBI this year.  These numbers are documented to be increasing and as the “Baby Boomers” age and life expectancies increase, it is likely that the trend will continue.

Both diagnosis and prognosis are complicated by factors that affect the older population such as other medical conditions, medications, substance use disorders, and elder abuse. To improve rehabilitation outcomes and quality of life for this population, both their needs as an aging adult and their needs specific to brain injury must be addressed collaboratively.

The Project
Through a federal grant,the Brain Injury Association of Massachusetts(BIA-MA) has partnered with the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission (MRC) andtheExecutive Office of Elder Affairs (EOEA) to create arelationship between brain injury services and services for elders inMassachusetts.The goal of this grant is to maximize the existing resource in MA for brain injury survivors over 60.

The Existing Services

For the elderly and disabled— In Massachusetts, there is a pre-existing system known as Aging & Disability Resources Consortia (ADRC) which consists of partnerships throughout the state, based on geographic areas, between Independent Living Centers (ILC) and Aging Services Access Points (ASAP). These ADRC’s provide single-point access to long-term care services including MassHealth programs, home care, and other resources for elders and people with disabilities.  

 For survivors of brain injury—The Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission (MRC) under the Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS)  is responsible for Vocational Rehabilitation Services, Community Living Services, and eligibility determination for the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) federal benefits programs. Services for people with brain injury are housed within the Community Living division of MRC and include the waiver programs, Acquired Brain Injury (ABI)  Waiver and Money Follows the Person Waiver program and also the Statewide Head Injury Program (SHIP). SHIP provides services to Massachusetts residents who have sustained a Traumatic Brain Injury.

The Brain Injury Association of Massachusetts’s  Information & Resources department provide information on professionals in the brain injury community, general information about brain injury, and other community resources. For this grant, an Elder Information & Resources Specialist Liz Harnois is available to assist with inquiries specific to older survivors of brain injury and their caregivers.

For any questions, please call the Traumatic Brain Injury Information & Resource Line for Elders 844-839-7154 or email Liz Harnois at lharnois@biama.org.