Tag Archives: acquired brain injuries

Open Communication

The brain injury experience is a very complex experience.  Overnight, so many things change and so many adjustments need to made.  Throughout this experience, brain injury survivors have goals, concerns and aspirations.  Loved ones also have their own goals, concerns and aspirations which may or may not be the same as those of the survivors.  The survivors and their loved ones try their best to achieve hoped-for outcomes.  Sometimes, these differences in desired outcomes lead to conflicts.  One of the underlying reasons for these conflicts is poor communication.

Family members, injury or no injury, tend to make assumptions about each other.  In fact, we all engage in some form of “mind reading” in which we guess at what the other person is thinking.  For instance, if one person is looking at a second person prior to entering a door the first person may “mind read” and think, “The other person is looking at me because they want me to walk through the door first.”  There is no actual words spoken, just assumptions made.  This generally works fine in simple situations but there are problems when we engage in “mind reading” in place of actual, open communication for important issues.  A simple look or smile does not say “I am hoping that a month or two after discharging from therapy I can return back to working and driving” or “I am worried that my son will want to return to mountain climbing where he could fall and hurt his brain again.”

A good place to start open communication is to have a family meeting in which goals, concerns and aspirations are talked about.  The meeting should be planned in advance with all parties informed of the purpose of the meeting.  This gives each family member time to organize their thoughts about these issues.  Many survivors benefit from writing a list of topics they want to discuss at the meeting to help them avoid forgetting about a topic.  A meeting of this sort does not need to be the final word on any topic.  In fact, it is good to say from the start that everyone at the meeting may not (and perhaps are likely to not) agree with what others are saying.  Particularly at the first meeting of this sort, it is not important to make decisions regarding the future.  Instead it is more important to open the lines of communication so each person can know what the other is thinking and “mind reading” can be avoided.  Opening the lines of communication in such a formal manner may seem awkward to some but it helps ensure that an actual discussion of the goals, concerns and aspirations of each family member will actually be discussed rather than devolving into other conversations.  Once these lines of communication are opened and everyone has a chance to openly discuss their thoughts, it is much easier in the future to re-visit these topics in a fully open manner.  Open communication can ultimately allow family members to walk hand-in-hand into the future with less conflict.

Learn about brain injury treatment services at the Transitional Learning Center!  Visit us at: http://tlcrehab.org/


How Can I Support A Caregiver?

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/