Caregiver Tips for Patients with Brain Injury

Mike Olmos by Mike Olmos | Licensed since 2010
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This article was updated on: 12/06/2016

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Caring for a loved one with a brain injury can change your life in ways your family might not expect. The path for both caregiver and patient may vary day by day, leading you to learn from your successes and failures as you go. If you are the caregiver for someone with a brain injury, we hope these caregiving tips help you chart your course through the challenges.

What are some caregiving tips to help you prepare for your loved one coming home from the hospital?

One caregiving tip for taking care of a loved one with a brain injury is to learn as much as possible about your loved one’s condition and deficits, the Brain Injury Association (BIA) of America advises. You may want to seek advice from therapists and other health-care professionals about ways to attend to the person at home. For example, the BIA provides the following caregiving tips:

  • Arrange the person’s room to help him function as independently as possible. Arrange dresser drawers with labels on the outside describing what’s inside. Set up the nightstand with a tray for eyeglasses, watch, and other personal items that might be misplaced. Create a notebook or index cards with cues for personal care routines—brush teeth, wash face, put on pajamas, for example.

Think about “external cueing” for situations when your loved one might have no recall of what’s expected, which can cause erosion in self-esteem. Post-it notes or cue cards in the kitchen and other living areas may help her remember where to find a coffee mug and cream or how to turn on the TV.

What are some caregiving tips for communicating with a brain injury patient?

As a caregiver for someone with brain injury, you may want to try these caregiving tips from the BIA :

  • Strive for consistency and structure in your daily schedule so your loved one begins to learn what to expect at various times during the day. It can be very anxiety-producing for an adult with a brain injury to have no idea what he should be doing at any point in time.
  • Watch for major shifts in your loved one’s behavior. In some cases, these could result from seizures, so tell your loved one’s doctor about any significant changes.

Caregiving tips: Remember to care for yourself as well

The National Institutes of Health has published several studies about caregiver stress when caring for someone with a brain injury. Indeed, this can be challenging work, but there are support groups you can reach out to. Many hospitals have social workers who could direct you to support resources; your loved one’s doctor might also have some useful information. The Brain Injury Association of America’s State Affiliates page lets you search for support in your area.

For more information:

The Center of Excellence for Medical Multimedia’s resource center has a library of guides for caregivers for those with traumatic brain injuries.

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