Today’s Tip of the Day talks about changes in the family dynamic after brain injury
We have touched on the subject on caregiving in a previous tip. Today we talk a bit more about the family as a whole.
Family life often changes dramatically after brain injury. Changes may persist for months or years. Look at the quotes from family members below. Perhaps you’ve heard your family members make the same comments. Perhaps you’ve said these things to yourself.
“Everything has changed since my son’s injury. I haven’t had a minute for myself.”
“I’ve missed my last two doctor’s appointments because no one else could get him to his physical therapy appointments.”
“I am exhausted. We can’t count on anything anymore. Nothing has been the same since the accident.”
After TBI, the sole focus of rehabilitation staff and family members is on the needs of the person with the injury. Because there is such a great focus on the patient, family members often lose sight of their own well-being and how their lives have changed.
Research shows that family members who serve as caregivers commonly face many difficulties after injury. On an emotional level, feeling overwhelmed and frustrated is a common experience. Many caregivers are upset by their loved one’s suffering, loss of abilities, and need for complex medical care. Aside from financial concerns, many people worry about their ability to provide quality care and whether family life will ever return to “normal.” Feeling worn out by the increasing number of responsibilities they have taken on is a common experience.
There is no doubt that family members have an important role in rehabilitation and recovery. As a family caregiver, you may be wondering how you can stay healthy and emotionally strong in the face of so many challenges.
When someone suffers a TBI, the entire family is affected. Studies show that caregivers of people who have suffered a brain injury may experience feelings of burden, distress, anxiety, anger, and depression. If you are caring for a partner, spouse, child, relative, or close friend with TBI, it is important to recognize how stressful this situation can be and to seek support services.
Services that may be most helpful to you include in-home assistance (home health aides or personal care assistants), respite care to provide breaks from caregiving, brain injury support groups, and ongoing or short-term counseling to adjust to all of the life changes post-injury. You also may need to ask your support system of family, friends, and community members for help with your loved one’s care, so that you don’t get burned out.
In your role as a caregiver, you will probably find that it can be difficult to get appropriate and adequate services for your loved one. It is important to know that you will most likely need to advocate for your loved one and be persistent in your search for assistance. You should use your network of family and friends, as well as professionals, to get tips about available resources and provide support.
Check out our learning library at www.alaskabraininjury.net for online pamphlets with more tips on this and other issues that affect those with brain injury.