If your loved one has been disabled as a result of a brain or spinal cord injury, it can be devastating for your family. At this time, you are probably completely focused on your injured loved one, and making sure that they get the care that they need. A permanent injury means a different lifestyle for your loved one, and for your entire family. It is now up to you to take care of your loved one and make sure that they get the help that they need. Being a caregiver for a disabled loved one is certainly rewarding, but it can also be stressful in many different ways. On this page, you can find some tips to help you give your loved one the help that they need while taking care of yourself.
Take Caregiving Seriously
Caregiving is it’s own job – it requires a lot of organization, knowledge, and planning. Your life and the lives of your loved ones are about to change. It is important to prepare for this change and make the transition as smooth as possible.
Understanding what your loved one needs and how to provide it is one of the first steps in taking care of them. Depending on your loved one’s injury, you might have to consider how to help them:
- Get out of bed in the morning and move around their home
- Simple everyday tasks such getting dressed, brushing their teeth, combing their hair, etc.
- Take care of themselves in terms of bathing, using the bathroom, and other personal hygiene needs
- Preparing and eating food
- Transportation to school, work, the doctor’s office, or social events
- Take their medication
- Coordinate appointments
In addition, you need to consider costs such as doctor’s visits, medications, special equipment such as wheelchairs, and more.
Consider what needs to be done, and get organized. Delegate tasks to other people when appropriate, and establish a new routine for your family. You can also seek help from doctors or other people who act as caregivers for family members.
Caregiving is a Team Effort
While you might feel that is your responsibility to take care of an injured loved one, such as a parent, child, or sibling, it is important to remember that it is not all on you. Different people can help in different ways, and compiling a team to support your loved one is the best way to help them.
You and your family members should do what you can. This might include assistance with everyday tasks, such as getting dressed, personal hygiene, assistance with transportation, financial help, etc. But remember – you don’t have to do everything on your own. The best thing for your family might be to hire an aide to assist with certain tasks.
As always, it is also important to make sure that professionals help with whatever is needed, whether that is physical therapy, speech therapy, administering medication, etc. You should also be in touch with a doctor to make sure that your loved one gets the medical attention that they need.
Take Care of Yourself
In addition to taking care of your loved one, remember that it is also important to take care of yourself. Caregiving can be stressful both emotionally and financially. Seek help wherever you can find it. Remember to rely on other family members and friends to take some of the load off of you. Support groups are also a great way to empathize with others and seek community assistance. If this is not enough, you can always seek help from a therapist.
You can also seek financial assistance to take some of the stress off of you. There are some forms of health insurance, such as Medicare and Medicaid, that can take some of the financial pressure off of your family. If your loved one’s injury was the result of an accident, you can also seek compensation from the at-fault party.
Remember not to be too hard on yourself. Caregiving is a difficult job, and it can be easy to let it take over your life. Remember to give yourself a break and make a point to have a life outside of caregiving. Make an effort to continue your relationships and hobbies in order to give yourself a break. Don’t beat yourself up for mistakes while caregiving – no one is perfect. Do the best you can and seek help when you need it.
Advocate for Your Loved One
Improving your loved one’s quality of life is a great way to help them through this difficult time. There is still a lot that needs to be done when it comes to equality for the disabled – whether in the workplace or in social settings. You can join groups who advocate for the disabled, or start one in your community. Familiarize yourself with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and other similar acts.
Another great way to advocate for your loved one is to try to educate yourself regarding their disability. Do your own research about their injury, treatment, and potential cures. Understand what needs to be done, support research initiatives, and help the medical community make progress for your loved one and others who face their disability.
It is also important to remember all of the things that your loved one and your family can do. Oftentimes after an accident, we tend to focus on the negative and think about what we have lost. But your loved one will still be able to make progress and adjust to their new lifestyle. Encourage your loved one to be independent when possible, and make sure to celebrate their progress and achievements. This might not be the life that you envisioned, but your family can support one another and enjoy even small victories.
Caregiving can be a stressful experience, but it can also be rewarding. Helping your loved one in any way that you can will help your family recover from a serious accident. For additional resources on caregiving, please contact my office. I can help you determine the best course of action for your family.