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After a traumatic brain injury: Tips for spouses and caregivers

A traumatic brain injury is life changing for the victim, but many people don't think about how much a spouse or caregiver will have to adjust after the accident. It is true that the victim will have to deal with the physical pain of the injury, but there are many different factors that the caregiver will have to deal with as well.

Even children and anyone close to the victim will have to deal with changes. This can be a taxing situation, but giving up isn't an option for most of these individuals. If you have a loved one who suffered a severe traumatic brain injury, here are some tips to help you care for yourself so you can care for them.

Understand the situation

The days and weeks after the accident are usually difficult. You will probably have a lot of information coming to you about the injury. Make sure that you understand what is going on. Don't be afraid to ask questions about anything you don't understand. Take notes to help you remember what was said. It might even help to have a friend or family member sit in on meetings with you so that you have another person there who can take notes and ask questions.

Make a clear plan for care

A severe traumatic brain injury is usually going to require intensive care for the victim. Sometimes, they can't be left alone for any period of time and will need help with every aspect of life. This can be very difficult, so you will need to create a clear plan for care. Having personal care assistants come in to help care for the person might be necessary. If the person doesn't need constant care, he or she might still need help with some tasks.

Determine the best ways to communicate

One area of care that you need to think carefully about is communication. This can be difficult if speech and cognition were affected by the injury, but finding ways that you can understand your loved one will certainly make life easier. Just remember that you should speak encouragingly at all times despite intermittent frustration that is natural for loved ones to feel when the person they once knew is "no longer there."

Take time for yourself

You might be so focused on taking care of your loved one that you forget to take care of yourself. This can make an already difficult situation even more stressful. Be willing to accept help when it is offered. You might even need to seek out programs that can provide respite care so you can have a little time to get away, even if it is only for an hour or two. By taking time for yourself, you will be able to focus on your loved one when necessary.

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