What Traumatic Brain Injury Caregivers Should Know

Brain injuries often leave victims with various levels of physical or cognitive disabilities. These disabilities often mean that an individual needs assistance from a caregiver. If you or somebody you love is currently a caregiver for someone with a traumatic brain injury, there are some things you need to be aware of. The ultimate goal is to avoid caregiver burnout, which is very real and can lead to devastating consequences for every party involved.

What is Caregiver Burnout?

When a person cares for another individual for an extended period of time, they (the caregiver) can suffer from significant mental and emotional harm. This does not mean that the caregiver does not care about the person for whom they are watching over – it just means that every person has a limit to how much they can do for another person over a longer timeframe before needing some help themselves.

According to the American Psychological Association, approximately 67% of unpaid caregivers of adults reported at least one behavioral or mental health symptom in the 30 days before the survey was conducted. Approximately 33% of these caregivers reported significant behavioral or mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety, or substance abuse in the 30 days prior to taking the survey. Astoundingly, around 30% of unpaid caregivers considered suicide within the 30 days prior to the survey.

The Nuances of a Brain Injury and Caregiving

One of the main tips for caregivers is to learn as much as possible about the situation. This means understanding the negative health effects of the person they are caring for. For example, if a person is caregiving for a person who has sustained a traumatic brain injury, it is important to understand how the injury has affected a victim both cognitively and physically as well as the likely prospects for recovery. Caregivers should have as much information as possible so they know what to expect moving forward.

Some tips for brain injury caregivers include:

  • Regular exercise. Finding regular exercise time can be challenging, but this does not have to mean exactly going to the gym or hitting the weights. Regular activity can include moderately strenuous walks around the neighborhood. This can also include various in-home exercises that can be done with assistance from computer videos or TV programs. Even 15 minutes of moderate exercise a day can have wonderful health benefits.
  • Healthy diet. Sometimes, it can be hard for caregivers to find time to craft a healthy diet. We encourage caregivers to do everything they can to choose nutritious foods for their own well-being.
  • Find resources. We encourage every traumatic brain injury caregiver to find resources in their area that may be able to provide assistance. This could include adult daycares or various types of healthcare-assisted rehabilitation programs. Caregivers may also be eligible to have in-home assistance, even if only for a few hours a day.
  • Time for yourself. Caregivers need to take time away from the house and the person they are caring for. This can include time going to a movie, the gym, walking on the beach, or hiking through a State Park. Caregivers are people, and they need time for themselves.
  • Be honest about depression. All caregivers need to perform an honest assessment of their mental status. Depression is real, and there are various medical and therapeutic ways to work through it. We encourage you to reach out to your primary care physician if you are experiencing symptoms of depression.