Advice for Family and Carers
Anyone can become a carer for a person who has experienced a TBI. Parents, children, siblings, partners or friends. Becoming a carer can be a difficult change, with the dynamic between you and the person being cared for potentially changing quite substantially. It can take time and considerable patience to adjust to the new situation you find yourself in.
Here are some tips to try and help you through the transition as smoothly as possible.
Take time for yourself
The person you are caring for may be suffering from an array of symptoms that change both their capacity to live independently and their personality. It’s important to remember that, while the person you are caring for has gone through a traumatic experience, you are also adjusting to changes in your life.
Taking time out for yourself to de-stress will be beneficial to your mental health as you navigate your new circumstances. Meditation, mindfulness, exercise or an hour to relax with a friend can all reduce your stress levels. When you re-charge your batteries it will help you be a better carer. We suggest you balance both your needs and the needs of the person for whom you are caring.
Look after your mental and physical well-being
Make sure you are taking the time to look after yourself properly. That means making sure you’re eating well and are getting enough exercise. It sounds simple enough, but during high stress periods and periods of change these can be the first things that slip. You’ll be of more help to everyone if you are feeling well mentally and physically.
If you are not coping or are feeling anxious or depressed, it is important that you see your GP or medical professional. Help is available from a number of different sources.
Communication with the person you are caring for is key. Try to communicate together as openly as possible so that you understand their needs AND so that they understand you are doing your best in a difficult situation.
Following more serious injuries it may not be possible to effectively communicate with a person with TBI and in some cases, the person you are caring for may listen but not understand. In these cases, taking time out for yourself is particularly important.
Specific language and communication difficulties such as Aphasia can further limit effective communication. You can read more about Aphasia here to help you understand ways to better communicate.
Lean on Family and Friends
Perhaps when the person you are caring for first suffered their TBI you may have thought it would be an acute case and that they would recover within a few weeks or months. If the symptoms have persisted chronically, it may be that you need someone else to step in and help in the caring role. This may take the form of respite care so that you can have a break, or a part time helper. See your GP about how you can access assistance packages.
Ask for help
Joining a support group is a great way for you to express how you are feeling, as well as getting hints and tips from other people in your situation. There are a number of different ways you can do this – in person groups, phone counselling, seeing a psychologist who can help you work through your thoughts and feelings or via an online forum. For details on these avenues of support visit: https://www.carergateway.gov.au/
For further information and advice please visit:
Disclaimer: This website does not provide advice for individuals. Please seek individual advice from your medical practitioner.