March is Brain Injury Awareness month, which means now is the perfect time to figure out what you can do to support your loved ones who live with this condition.
According to The Brain Injury Association of America, more than 5.3 million people are living with permanent brain injury in this country. One of the major keys to living with a permanent traumatic (TBI) or acquired brain injury (ABI) is to have a well-supported and structured environment at home.
For many TBI and ABI patients, some of the most common challenges they face involve balance, memory, and task management. To alleviate the stress surrounding these challenges, here is what a family member or friend can do to support them:
Remove Or Store Tripping Hazards – Rugs, angled table and chair legs, and pet toys should all be temporarily moved until the individual is well-balanced.
Create Lists Or Reminders – This can serve as a helpful reference for someone facing a TBI or ABI who is trying to manage their task lists.
Offer To Take Over Tasks That Cause Overwhelming – Sometimes it feels impossible to address all the steps in a single task or follow-up task. As a supportive third party, you should not immediately take over every task that your loved one is trying to do. Only when they’re struggling or you know a task might cause overwhelm during an off-day, should you take over. This will allow your loved one to keep their autonomy without becoming overwhelmed.
Learning to live with a brain injury can take a huge emotional toll on the affected individual too. It’s not uncommon for a TBI or ABI patient to experience mood swings, exaggerated emotions or face overwhelm from trying to complete everyday tasks.
As a friend or loved one, here is what you can do to emotionally support them at home:
- Listen To Them – Having someone to talk to about the struggles of a brain injury can help an individual cope and adapt to their diagnosis. This can also make the rehabilitation process a bit easier.
- Be Patient – It will take time for an individual to adapt to a new daily routine or even communicate with someone. It’s not uncommon for someone with a brain injury to repeat themselves too. As important as it is to listen to them, you should also be patient and kind.
- Offer Encouragement – If a TBI or ABI patient faces light sensitivities, then they could stay in the dark for hours or days at a time. While you should never force them to do something they don’t want to do, you should encourage them to take a brief walk with you outside, have a conversation or conduct at-home therapy exercises.
- Be Consistent – Routines will help a person with a brain injury adapt and cope. Not only will showing up consistently help them with their current routines but it will also show that you care about your loved one with a TBI or ABI.
- Don’t Give Up On Them – It’s important to remember that the learning curve for any brain injury is steep and challenging. One of the biggest keys to progress and adapting is being well supported by family and friends whenever possible, especially when a patient faces memory problems.
We completely understand that supporting a loved one on your own can be overwhelming too. If you’re looking for assistance when you’re not available to take care of your loved one, then you should consider a customized living service plan through Options Residential, Inc. Our professionally trained staff will be able to physically and emotionally support your loved one according to their specific needs.
To learn more about this customized service, visit our website or contact us by phone today.