Traumatic Brain Injury Blog

Brain Injury Support - The Caregiver

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Brain injuries can be devastating, traumatic, unexpected and life altering.  Often times, with so much focus on the brain injury survivor, the caregiver is forgotten.  This often results in the deterioration of our own health and sanity.  So who is there to help the brain injury caregiver?  What support and direction do you have?  Thankfully there is help.

There are numerous organizations and support groups that exist to provide "care for the caregiver" and to give helpful tips and advice on how to care for their loved one and manage their own life.  The advice starts from the very beginning when tensions are at their highest. 

Managing The Initial Transition

During these first few days, consider calling on friends and family for help with the following:

  • Managing your bills
  • Caring for the family pet
  • Taking care of young children
  • Taking out the trash
  • Mowing the lawn
  • Cooking meals

The real work begins when you get home.  This is when caregivers can feel most vulnerable and helpless.  In the hospital there are doctors and nurses on every corner to provide assistance when you need it.  But when you get home you are often on your own. To care for a brain injury survivor, it is important to understand their behavior can change, they may feel depressed, experience memory loss, have poor reasoning skills and become confused easily.  All of this can lead to a cycle of deterioration which can be avoided with the proper plan.

Steps For Managing Care At Home

  • Understand your loved one's deficits by staying well involved with their rehab
  • Prepare their room at home and arrange it so they can live as independently as possible
  • Create an active schedule providing them with a reason to get up everyday
  • Become regimented with their routine and stick to it
  • If you notice changes in their behavior, check with their doctor right away
  • Search out brain injury resources
  • Learn the Family Medical Leave Act
  • Partner with the medical team
  • Keep a notebook or binder with important information
  • Stay focused
  • Take breaks

So who cares for the caregiver?  You do.  As the caregiver, you must keep yourself healthy, calm and find a way to effectively manage your stress if you are to be of any good to your loved one. 

Managing Your "Self Care"

  • Join a support group
  • Create a section in your notebook titled "Self Care" and keep anything there that reminds you to stay positive and take care of yourself
  • Create a journal, write poems and take pictures of the world around you
  • Try growing flowers, herbs or vegetables in an area that you can manage
  • Exercise - you will need the outlet and it will keep you energized
  • Try a new hobby - scrapbooking, model airplanes, woodworking or anything you can do at home to take your mind away from your daily stress

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