Traumatic Brain Injury Caregiving
Many traumatic brain injury caregivers ignore their own personal health needs in order to treat the health concerns of their loved ones. Family members and friends of traumatic brain injury patients often end up suffering the emotional and financial consequences that can result from caregiving. In fact, studies have shown that 46 to 59 percent of caregivers suffer from depression.*
Caring for a traumatic brain injury patient can also be very expensive. If the injury, either a closed head injury or an open head injury, was a result of someone’s negligence or wrongdoing, the patient may be eligible for compensation to pay for medical expenses, therapy and other damages. With the help of a traumatic brain injury attorney, many victims and their families earn their rightful compensation.
Caring for Traumatic Brain Injury Patients
Depending on personal circumstances and the condition of the patient, caregivers must decide whether to care for a patient at home or admit the patient into a treatment center. In some instances, a therapy or rehabilitation center may be the best solution. Those responsible for patients in a coma are often advised to admit the patient to a coma treatment center, which is specifically equipped to treat patients with low levels of consciousness.
Caregivers who treat patients within their homes are often unprepared for the demanding medical needs and financial burden. Many struggle with handling a patient’s challenging behavior, as well as monitoring medication and overall health. Managing medical expenses is also an added source of stress.
In many instances, caring for a traumatic brain injury patient changes the dynamics within a family. Some family members struggle with adapting to the patient’s new identity, while others may demonstrate anger and frustration at the patient’s impaired abilities. Caregivers often sacrifice social interactions and recreational activities in order to care for the patient.
Improving Self-Care for Traumatic Brain Injury Caregivers
The Family Caregiver Alliance (FCA) offers caregivers seven tips to improve their self-care.
- Reduce personal stress. Caregivers are encouraged to identify their sources of stress and take actions to regain a sense of control. FCA recommendations include meditation and talking with a friend.
- Set goals. To improve their self-esteem, caregivers need to set goals and take the necessary steps to accomplish them.
- Seek solutions. Caregivers can reduce their personal stress and gain a sense of accomplishment by identifying and tackling problems that arise from caring for a traumatic brain injury patient.
- Communicate constructively. Handling a traumatic brain injury patient’s behavior requires patience from caregivers. The FCA recommends being specific and listening. The FCA also suggests using “I” statements; for example, “I felt upset when you acted this way,” instead of you-centered statements, like “You made me angry.”
- Seek help. Caring for a traumatic brain injury can be overwhelming. As a result, it is important to seek outside help from support groups, friends and counseling professionals.
- Speak with a physician. Talking to a doctor can help a caregiver prepare for any medical emergencies that may arise. Physicians are also able to answer questions regarding the administration of medications.
- Exercise. Caregivers of traumatic brain injury patients are at risk of developing a variety of mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety and anger. Exercise can improve their moods, as well as benefit their overall health.
*Source: Family Caregiver Alliance
[Last revision: June 01, 2010]