As modern medicine improves and our population ages, more individuals are able to live longer with serious health issues including permanent deficits resulting from a brain injury. This notable demographic shift places more loved ones in the position of serving as long-term caregivers. These caregivers need all available support from those around them but many of those capable of offering assistance are simply unaware of how best to help. Here are a few quick suggestions on how to support caregivers:
1. Call them and ask how you can help. Caregivers may feel shy or embarrassed to initiate requests for help but are often far more receptive to assistance if it is offered. This gives caregivers opportunity to request specific aspects of help most needed at a given juncture, and they will certainly be grateful for all help shared.
2. Offer to have the caregiver and survivor over for a meal or to deliver a meal to them. With all of the responsibilities that caregivers meet on a daily basis, having someone else take care of even a single meal can be a source of welcome relief.
3. Be there to listen. Many caregivers feel overwhelmed by their experiences. A friendly phone call or visit with a supportive ear helps relieve some of this emotional burden. Knowing that others care about their well-being is very important for caregivers in maintaining their own emotional health.
4. Be a friend to the survivor. After their injuries, many survivors find that their social circles quickly shrink. Some caregivers can find themselves serving as the only social outlet for the survivors in their lives. This can be a source of tremendous additional stress in the life of a caregiver. Being a part of the survivor’s social circle reduces the need for the caregiver to fill all of these social roles. Moreover, the survivor is sure to appreciate this as well!
5. Offer to spend time with the survivor so the caregiver can spend a little time tending to his or her own needs. As a result of devotion to meeting needs of a survivor, it’s all to easy for caregivers to end up neglecting their own. A few brief hours just to cover an unhurried trip to the grocery store, hair salon or doctor’s office (or simply to enjoy a quiet cup of coffee on their own) can do wonders for a caregiver’s quality of life.
6. Take a moment out of your day to send a card, e-mail or flowers. Sometimes we don’t have a lot of time to spare for lengthy calls or visits but a quick note to say “hello” tells the caregiver that they are not forgotten.
Hopefully this list will give you ideas to start reaching out and supporting caregivers!
Learn about brain injury treatment services at the Transitional Learning Center! Visit us at: http://tlcrehab.org/