Often, a brain injury survivor needs to make significant lifestyle changes following his or her injury. This may include eating healthier, engaging in daily exercise or making a sustained commitment to sobriety. These lifestyle changes can be incredibly challenging as they may involve making permanent alterations to long-standing habits. However, the greatest challenge facing a survivor is often presented by members of his or her household who persist in old lifestyle practices contrary to the new patterns of behavior the survivor is trying to welcome into his or her life. For instance, it is extremely difficult for most individuals to abstain from alcohol while other members of their household continue to drink in their presence. Eventually, the survivor may be tempted back to prior unhealthy lifestyle habits or feel bitter that others do not have to make the same lifestyle changes that he or she has had to make. This can also serve to bolster inevitable suspicions that if others do not need to make the changes in question, then such changes must not necessarily be all that important. All of this negative thinking greatly increases chances of a dangerous lapse into the old, unhealthy lifestyle habits.
Research shows that individuals are more likely to adhere to lifestyle changes such as dietary alterations when they can rely upon the support of others while attempting those changes. For instance, individuals are more likely to exercise regularly if they have an exercise “buddy” who works out with them. Conversely, individuals trying to abstain from drug use are more likely to return to using drugs if they are surrounded by active substance abusers. Ultimately, the best chance for brain injury survivors to succeed at lifestyle changes is if their families join them in healthier lifestyles. If the family is “all in”, it is less likely that the survivor will “fall out” from his or her new lifestyle. In truth, everyone can benefit from changes such as eating better, exercising regularly and maintaining sobriety. So it is a good idea for everyone in the household to join in a new, healthy lifestyle!
Learn about brain injury treatment services at the Transitional Learning Center: tlcrehab.org