What You Need to Know as a Caregiver of Someone with a Traumatic Brain Injury
Caring for someone with a traumatic brain injury presents unique challenges. These challenges can be practical, social, financial, and emotional.
Here are five tips to help caregivers of patients who have suffered a traumatic brain injury.
1. Encourage Self-Reliance
Patients with traumatic brain injury will have different levels of capability of caring for themselves depending on the extremity of the injuries. Trying to force a patient to do a task they aren’t capable of benefits no one but often caregivers can lean too far the other way and do for the patient what that person could do for themselves.
Encouraging the patient to be as independent as their condition allows takes the pressure off the caregiver while allowing the patient more control. This is good for everyone.
The patient may struggle, make a mess, or take much longer than a caregiver would at a task. It is natural for a caregiver to want to step in and help but patients will maintain their sense of dignity, recover more fully, and feel more in control if they are allowed to be independent.
2. Have the Right Equipment
Independence for a patient with traumatic brain injury may require equipment. This can range from wheelchair ramps to ceiling lift systems.
Caregivers should consult with a durable medical equipment (DME) company in their area to find what products are available to help their loved one be independent. Something as simple as a roll-in shower that allows the patient to handle their hygiene privately can make a significant difference in the patient’s happiness and comfort.
3. Get Support
Caregivers should seek out the support they need. This support can be physical assistance from home health workers, respite care through adult day programs, or education and friendship from support groups for caregivers.
Caregivers often struggle as much as the patient does and it is normal to need help and support.
Support groups are a great place for caregivers to meet others in their situation. It is a safe place to talk to people who understand the challenges of being a caregiver. It is also a great place to get advice from other caregivers. They may be able to recommend a specialist who has helped their loved one, a reliable home medical equipment company, or something as simple as the best patient transfer device. Caregivers in the support group have learned many tricks while caring for patients with traumatic brain injuries and they are happy to give to newcomers.
4. Become an Advocate
Medical professionals do the best they can but they aren’t caring for the patient day in and day out. It is important that the caregiver alerts the doctor to changes in the patient, educates themselves about traumatic brain injury, and asks questions about medication and procedures. Patients with traumatic brain injury often lose the ability to advocate for themselves either because they don’t understand what is happening or they are unable to communicate with medical staff.
5. Accept Your Feelings
After a loved one suffers a traumatic brain injury family members are relieved the patient survived. Many don’t consider the difficult recovery ahead or the fact that the patient is irrevocably changed.
It is normal to feel sad that the injury happened along with relief that the patient survived their ordeal. Caregivers may feel grief for the loss of the person they knew before the patient’s injury. They may have trouble accepting the new normal. Patient changes in abilities, personality, and behaviors can bring on many feelings from sorrow to frustration.
Caregivers may feel stress in their new caregiving role. They may feel frustrated by changes in family dynamics and angry at taking over roles the patient previously handled within the family. Traumatic brain injury is life-altering but patients and caregivers can overcome the hurdles of such an extreme injury with time, patience, and support.
Where to Find Home Medical Equipment
Lift and Care Systems is eager to help caregivers of traumatic brain injury patients in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island find the equipment they need. Call today at (508) 802-4439 for a free consultation or fill out our online contact form.