CAREGIVERS FOR TBI SURVIVORS
When someone sustains a traumatic brain injury, it effects not only the person suffering from it but their entire family. Typically, a caregiver can be a spouse, child, relative, or close friend. It is important to stress the severity of seeking support services for the caregiver themselves. Caring for someone with a traumatic brain injury can interfere with the caregivers own personal responsibilities such as work, family, and can impact their health and finances negatively. Caregivers can end up losing work time, social activities, and family obligations. Studies have found and recognize that tat caregivers can experience feelings of distress, anxiety, anger and depression.
When a caregiver commits to taking care of a loved one, it is highly recommended to reach out to the Brain Injury Association of America for information and educational materials. To understand the consequences traumatic brain injury is important for the course of recovery. Every brain is unique as every injury is unique. So understanding the steps of the journey of what your loved one with a traumatic brain injury will go through is cardinal in a caregiver’s role and duties.
Initially, after an accident, a caregiver will be taking their loved one to scans, examinations, and physical therapies. Post-concussion symptoms will be apparent, and sometimes after many doctor visits it can be an incredible challenge as you may ask, “will it ever get better?”
Once a patient realizes that they cannot resume to their daily activities it can be very upsetting and behavioral problems can arise. A caregiver should be sure to look out for these possible issues such as sensitivity to light and sound, pacing, and hallucinations. Mood and social problems can arise such as anxiety, depression, mood swings, and agitation. As a caregiver, is it essential to limit certain interactions with others while this is happening.
Typically a caregiver can experience burnout as a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion. This can stem from overextending themselves physically and financially. Burnout can cause high blood pressure and coronary artery disease. The stress may alter and reduce a caregiver’s ability to provide proper and quality caregiving. Oftentimes it is suggested that therapy can offer both social support and coping mechanisms. It is recommended to seek help through a home health aide or a personal care assistant for services of care, to provide breaks for the caregiver.
Mayo Clinic suggests that caregivers should not try to do everything themselves. Taking a break and asking a friend or family member for help when its needed is detrimental for a caregiver’s mental health. It could be something such as running errands for you, or to have someone come over and keep an eye on the loved one so that the for themselves. It could include something such as simple as taking a shower or running their own errands. Caregivers should be aware of their limits and to not over extend themselves. Overextending leads to exhaustion which is harmful to for the caregiver, making it even harder on the loved one with the traumatic brain injury.
Instead of dwelling on the consequences of the injury caregivers should try their best to focus on daily successes and steer away from the loss and perceived failures. Set reasonable goals daily. With severe traumatic brain injuries for example, a caretaker may need to walk their loved one to a coffee shop practicing the words needed to order a drink. The long term goal would be to eventually walk alone to the coffee shop and order yourself a drink. In the rehabilitation stage, every task or activity you once loved may seem intimidating. Within this phase a caretaker’s loved one will work on language therapy, strength, coordination and motor skills. As a caretaker you should be motivating and be specific with the goals you set with your loved one. To find a balance in meeting your own needs, and also their needs is the best way to create a successful journey in regaining a normal life.