A traumatic brain injury (TBI) can take a toll on the person caring for a loved one with this condition. The primary goal of the caregiver is to help the senior live as independently as possible, while receiving in-home care for the tasks that are no longer a possibility for them. The Family Caregiver Alliance reported that about 2.5 million Americans suffer from a TBI and is the most common among adolescents between the ages of 15 and 24, as well as adults over the age of 75. While many people expect to help their aging parent with diabetes, a heart condition, or mobility problems in the near future, one health condition most people are not prepared for is TBI. If your loved one is receiving senior care due to this condition and you are assisting with their daily routine, there are several things you can do to help provide the care and support they need during this new phase of their life.
Educate yourself. The first thing to do when your aging relative is diagnosed with a TBI is to learn as much about their condition as possible. While their doctor will be able to provide a great deal of information on the elder's condition, you can do your own research online, at the library, or through resources found at your local senior center.
Providing a quiet, calm environment. People with a TBI may have a difficult time understanding what is being said to them, which will be even more of a challenge if you are in a noisy atmosphere. Keep the room quiet and free of all distractions, such as the TV, radio, or phone, will make it easier for your elderly loved one to communicate with you.
Prepare to repeat yourself. TBI patients often suffer from short-term memory loss, causing them to quickly forget what was said in a conversation. If this happens, repeat what you said calmly and slowly. If your loved one still does not understand, either choose different wording or move on to a different topic.
Encourage independence. If the senior is still able to do some things by themselves, let them. By encouraging them to do some tasks on their own, you will help boost their self-esteem and confidence knowing that they accomplished something without help. Providing too much assistance may make them feel worthless and without a purpose, so let them do as much as they are able to.
Be patient. Seniors who are receiving elder care for this condition will need you to speak slowly and clearly to them in order to fully understand the conversation. It is important to stay calm and patient when needing to repeat yourself, while also showing compassion and understanding for your loved one.
Expect changes in their personality. Most people with a TBI are much different than the person they were before the injury. They will most likely be unable to control their emotions, have a noticeable change in their behavior, and have a problem with communicating with others. Being prepared for these changes will help you stay calm and patient during these difficult transitions.