An estimated 2.5 million people in the US will have traumatic brain injuries within a year. Many issues may arise in the relationship between immediate family member and the carer of a brain injury survivor. How will they adapt and adjust to each other?
A head injury may either be mild such as a concussion, or severe like a head injury acquired from a car accident requiring surgery. The support and care of the family and oftentimes a caregiver are always needed by the victim regardless of whether the injury is mild or severe. This is because the victim will not be his usual self as a result of a traumatic brain injury.
Taking care of a person with head injury is very costly. It also takes a lot of time and patience. A lot of understanding from both the family and the caregiver is needed.
The first issue that needs to be addressed at once is money, How much is needed to cover the initial treatment of the person, the cost for medicines and follow up consultations as well as the cost for rehabilitation or therapy?
The cost for hiring a caregiver or a private nurse will also be a major expense when required for persons with traumatic brain injury.
It is always anticipated that if the immediate family cannot afford for the hospital and recovery costs of the patient, other relatives may be asked to chip in. This issue is very sensitive since this may cause friction or division among the family members especially if one or some of the relatives refuse to help even though they can afford to.
Time and Commitment
Family members are expected to be available to take care of their brain injury patient. Is the family member available and willing to devote his time to take care of the survivor either full time or a considerable amount of time? Sometimes, a family member tasked to take care of patient needs to take time out from his or her job. However, the carer also needs relief from caring chores. This will require the cooperation of other family members. This issue must be planned well and immediately agreed upon to ensure that the patient gets the proper care at all times.
Patience and Calm
Another issue is the way the family member will treat or provide care for the brain injury survivor. Acceptance of the patient’s condition is the utmost priority when tasked with caring for someone with a head injury.
The family member caring for the patient must be know that he can easily get irritated and oftentimes, unaware of his actions.
The caring relative including the caregiver must understand the condition of the patient and must have all the tolerance in the world to control his emotions. The caregiver must have an understanding of the changes in a person with brain injury and he must have the skill how to handle these changes in the patient.
Any violent or highly vocal reaction of the caring person will not help in stopping the uneasiness of the patient but will just worsen the situation of the survivor. The patient will have many cognitive difficulties such as reduction in learning skills, easily distracted, memory problems, frequent uneasiness or easily gets bored, having a hard time in following instructions, slow thinking and communication problems to name a few.
The family must also consider joining a support group, as part of a care plan. This can significantly help in providing strength for the affected family as well as wisdom and the much-needed encouragement in handling the daunting task.
More Than Just a Caregiver
There is a lot a caregiver can do aside from providing the personal and material needs of the patient such as food and clothing. He can improve concentration and attention of the person by initially isolating the patient in quite areas of the recovery house or facility to reduce distractions and noise.
The caregiver must also expose the patient to practical activities such as reading a paragraph of a book or magazine at first to improve attention skills.
The caregiver must always speak in a gentle voice so that relationship with patient would turn out good. He must speak in a clear but somewhat slow manner so that patient can comprehend everything that is heard. This will also help at the same time of the development of the brain of the individual with brain injury.
Caring for a head injury survivor is very challenging. Of course, there will be issues with family members and caregivers but open communication, patience and understanding are needed especially among the people who work closely for the patient’s recovery from a traumatic brain injury.