Coping with a traumatic brain injury can be difficult. No two head injuries are alike, and it can be frustrating to hear a doctor say that they’re not sure how long brain injury rehabilitation will take and what the likely extent of the recovery will be.
If you are a caregiver for someone who has suffered a serious brain injury, you will need to find some coping strategies. Sometimes, you may feel as though you’re taking on all the care responsibilities on your own, but support is out there. Here are a few tips to help you stay healthy and happy as a caregiver.
Take Some Time Off
While brain injury rehabilitation care might seem like a full time job, it doesn’t have to be one. You may be a caregiver, but you’re also human, and you can’t be on the alert 24/7/365. Take some time off to go for a walk, take a bath, or take a trip to the cinema. If you don’t know anyone else who can look after your loved one while you’re away, ask about home support services in the local area. Help is out there.
Join a Support Group
Ask your local hospital or doctor’s surgery if they know of any support groups for carers in the area. Sometimes, talking to people who are in the same situation is a great stress reliever.
Brain injury rehabilitation is a complex thing, and each person’s recovery will be different, however, anything that you can do to allow the injured person to feel a sense of independence will be helpful. If the injured person feels as though they are not 100% reliant on other people, this will improve their mood, and will inspire them to try to recover even further.
Caregiver.org (http://www.caregiver.org/caregiver/jsp/content_node.jsp?nodeid=396) offers a lot of advice to help people establish a structure, and help people with a brain injury to cope with confusion, memory loss, and associated emotional issues.
Understand Your Emotions
As a caregiver, you may feel as though you have a responsibility to care for the injured person. If they lash out, or even if they simply show a lack of emotional response, while they are recovering from their injury, you may feel upset. Later, that upset might turn to feelings of guilt.
Try to accept that you will have bad days. You will sometimes long for a break, you will feel angry that other people seem to have fewer responsibilities to cope with, and you may sometimes get frustrated if your loved one’s injury stops them from being able to do seemingly simple things. Accept those emotions as a part of being human. Write down how you feel, and try to find constructive ways of venting your feelings.
You can find more advice about coping with negative emotions on Brainline.org (http://www.brainline.org/content/2009/09/caregiver-coping-strategies_pageall.html).
Build a routine
Both you and the person recovering from injury will find it easier to cope if there is a solid routine in place. The routine does not have to be too strict or rigid, but simply knowing that the lady from home support services will come by every Tuesday will help to keep confusion to a minimum, and give you something to look forward to when you’re feeling tired and a little frazzled.
Try to stay focused, and understand that the recovery will take time, but things should get a little better every day.