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Caregiving responsibilities by Charles Watson


Posted on May 11, 2021

After a family member sustains TBI or ABI, spouses, parents, partners, siblings and children may experience role changes associated with becoming a caregiver of a survivor. They may experience an increased responsibility for providing financial, emotional and physical support at a level they are not used to providing. 

There are unique stressors to caregivers of persons with TBI, challenges that family members typically experience when providing care, phases of adjustment post injury, and the importance of recognizing and managing stress. 

Caregivers typically progress through several phases of recovery after a family member is affected by TBI. Caregivers often neglect their work and home responsibilities, and may have to take help from friends and relatives to meet their basic needs. Grief, disbelief and difficulty accepting, are replaced by hope once the TBI sufferer transitions to a rehabilitation program. Many caregivers assume the responsibility of majorly providing care for the TBI survivor once rehab is complete. Many caregivers go through a grieving process including redefining themselves, their expectations and fear of long-term caregiver stress. 

Caregivers’ well-being:

Caregivers can experience changes in their physical and psychological well-being as a result of providing the bulk care for the TBI survivor. The level of injury, family coping styles, survivor needs, cultural or family background and social support can impact changes in caregiver’s well-being. Research indicates that caregivers can experience greater distress than the TBI survivor, and anxiety and depression can effect caregivers’ years after the injury. Emotional, behavioral and personality changes result in putting burden on the caregiver more than physical disabilities and intelligence do. 

Signs of caregiver stress:

Some red flags regarding caregiver stress include

  • social withdrawal, 
  • irritability,
  • lack of concentration,
  • physical and psychological problems,

and change in relationship with the victim due to pent-up anger towards them. You may also notice that the caregiver falls sick often, become more unorganized and ends up forgetting details or event frequently.

How to manage stress as a caregiver?

Letting the stress build up can prove to be both physically and mentally toxic. It’s not only important to identify it but also resolve and release some of the stress. Getting support from individual counseling, family therapy, support groups, legal supports, and respite resources. These are some of the ways through which you can understand yourself more deeply and it will also help come to terms with the loss and grief that weighs you down. Talking with others and exercising therapeutic methods to relax the brain can relieve some unwanted stress.

Once you feel better and get back on track with all your responsibilities as a single parent while taking care of both your spouse and children, keep in mind to not let it become an obstacle in having a healthy personal life. Follow your schedule and incorporate meeting up with your friends or support group mates at a regular basis. As a parent caregiver, it’s essential to have some personal time for systematic desensitization- letting go of any regrets, grudges, anger or ill feelings towards a person or event.