TBI can alter the lives of the entire family, and caring for a TBI patient can be a long-term, even lifetime, commitment. For that reason, learning to manage the stress and frustration of caring for a TBI patient is vitally important. If the caregivers cannot take care of themselves emotionally and physically, they will not be equipped to provide effective care to the TBI patient.
Although in some cases it may seem difficult or impossible, especially early on after the injury, the following tips can be helpful:
- Remember that your friend or family member experiencing a TBI often cannot control their behaviors or emotions.
- Reward yourself periodically with short breaks.
- Take advantage of all available support resources.
- Exercise to help relieve stress, improve sleep, reduce depression and increase your energy level.
- Get plenty of sleep whenever possible.
- Don't be afraid to ask for help.
- Remember to take advantage of the resources available to you, such as family and friends offering help, local support groups, and web-based support networks.
- Take time to be alone and clear your head.
- Make a to-do list of tasks and put them in order of importance. This can reduce feelings of being overwhelmed and aid in helping others to help you.
- Talk about your feelings to family and friends.
- Do not isolate yourself.
- Realize that feelings of sadness and frustration are normal.
- Educate yourself about TBI.
- If it’s right for you, use prayer, meditation, and other types of spiritual support.
- Try relaxation activities such as yoga, warm baths, reading, listening to music, or just spending time with friends.
- If necessary, ask your doctor about whether or not medications to treat anxiety or depression might be right for you.
For more tips and tools for caregivers, visit http://www.caregiver.va.gov.