Returning home following a brain injury – regardless of severity – can be complex. It can be emotional, exciting, overwhelming, and even exhausting for both the individual, their family, and if present, their caregiver(s). If you are caring for a client, partner, spouse, child, relative, or close friend with a traumatic brain injury (TBI), preparing as much as possible beforehand could help to alleviate some of the stressful effects of the pressure of caring for someone with such a serious injury. Read along as we provide prep and care tips for the TBI caregiver community.
Preparing the Home
Home safety is of utmost importance after a TBI. It is important for family members and caregivers to assess the home before the individual’s return from rehabilitation and make sure it is a safe, accessible environment. Caregivers should arrange each room to enable the person with TBI to function as independently as possible. As a general rule, you will need to eliminate clutter, create unobstructed passageways, and create a sense of order to help your loved one perform daily activities.
Here are some suggestions for modifying the home:
- Ramps – Getting in and out of the house is the first order of business, and a ramp may be needed. If you need a wheelchair ramp, ADA guidelines indicate a slope rule of 1:12. In other words, for every one inch of slope the ramp will need to extend 12 inches.
- Ceiling Lifts – Ceiling lifts run on a track system that is mounted to the home’s ceiling and are designed to help caregivers move an individual without causing strain or risking an injury.
- Roll-In Showers – A roll-in shower allows an individual access directly into the shower while in their shower wheelchair.
- Door Openers – There are power door opening units that will open and close the door for the person to enter and exit the house unaided. The timing of the open and close settings can be adjusted for each person, and many units include options like digital keypads, electric strikes, various switches, and outdoor access.
- Door Widening – Wider doorways make it much easier for the person in a wheelchair to navigate by ensuring there is adequate room to safely maneuver within the home.
Caring for the individual:
It’s important that family members, friends, and caregivers understand the individual does not want to feel or act differently than they did before the injury. The journey ahead can be challenging, and may feel slow, but here are some tips to ensure the transition runs as smoothly as possible.
- Learn about their brain injury: Because no two people are exactly alike, no two brain injuries will be identical either. This means that your loved one’s experience will be unique, and they will not necessarily have the same secondary effects as someone else, even with the same type of brain injury. With that said, the location, size, and severity of the brain injury can often predict what recovery may look like. That is why it’s beneficial to keep an open line of communication with their doctor.
- Be patient: Brain injury can cause a number of emotional or behavioral issues, particularly after a frontal lobe injury. A person with a TBI might struggle with severe mood swings, or behave impulsively. Emotional problems usually arise because there is a problem that the person cannot cope with. Therefore, it’s important to stay patient and not react. They might be in pain or exhausted; there could be excessive noise or confusion. They might just need to be left alone for a few minutes. Whatever the reason, see if you can figure it out and address it while remaining calm.
- Provide emotional support: Many brain injury patients face devastating losses that can compromise their sense of freedom. To provide them with the support they need, understand that these emotions are a normal part of the healing process. Don’t try to force them to feel or act happy. Instead, help them by simply being there and lending a sympathetic ear.
|Note: Caregiver support groups can also be a good option for family members and friends as well. Not only can you find helpful advice on caring for someone with brain injury, but you can also meet like-minded peers who can offer you guidance and emotional support for your own grief. This is an important way to avoid caregiver burnout.|
- Record their progress: Brain injury recovery is a slow process. It can get discouraging sometimes, especially when the person appears to no longer be improving. To avoid discouragement, caregivers can keep a journal documenting all the progress the person has made, such as relearning how to tie their shoes or getting better at coping with disappointment. No matter how small an improvement they make, write it down. This will encourage both you and your loved one on the more difficult days.
- Keep things organized: Make sure to keep the home organized. Be conscious of where items are usually kept so as not to confuse them.
Summing it Up:
Caring for people with TBIs requires patience and attention to a wide array of individual needs. It is through the courageous work of caregivers, more people with TBI are able to return to the loving environment of their homes and resume happy and fulfilling lives. For more information about preparing for TBI care, or to find out how you can receive in-home assistance, visit Andrea’s Angels’ website or call either of our convenient Colorado locations. We’re here to provide you and your loved ones with peace of mind and the confidence to continue.
DISCLAIMER: THIS BLOG DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE
The information in this blog is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen.