4 Ways to Help A Survivor of Brain Injury
By: Kristen Olsen
Caregiving for a loved one with a brain injury can cause stress in many ways. Family members of individuals with memory disorders resulting from injury report that the main problem is not the injury itself but the ambiguity it causes.
Adding to the stress, unpredictable memory loss brings a rollercoaster of absence and presence. While each survivor’s recovery is unique and many experience lifelong consequences, there are strategies to cope with these uncertainties:
Awareness and Education
Family members should try to gain as much information about brain injury as possible. Knowledge increases confidence and may reduce the anxiety that many feel when confronted with the unknown. The Brain Injury Alliance of New Jersey has an extensive guide, available in English and Spanish, that outlines what families can expect after a loved one has sustained a brain injury.
Connection with a Support Group
Joining a support group will help both family and survivor connect with people going through similar circumstances. This provides social and emotional support—a safe place to vent frustrations, share ideas and learn new strategies. Brands like Nixplay can also offer survivors of brain injury, their families and friends a way to unite the moments from the past and present. Memories shared in photographs can help reinforce a support system which is crucial to brain injury rehabilitation.
A “Both/And” Mindset for Family Members
Caregivers are encouraged to adopt a “both/and” mindset as opposed to an “either/or.” For example, rather than thinking the care recipients have to be either here or gone, think of them as here and gone. This type of thinking is thought to be less stressful over time and practice.
Keeping it Simple
For people who have sustained a brain injury, memory issues can present different kinds of challenges. Memory changes are common even after a mild concussion, often a result of injury to the frontal and temporal lobes and limbic system. To cope, researchers suggest “keeping it simple.” Break information down into smaller pieces and try to keep a routine. Having an organized life can help reduce the burden of memory and learning. Using memory aids, such as calendars, lists, and notebooks, will help
If you or someone you know is struggling with the impacts of brain injury, you can contact BIANJ Helpline at 1-800-669-4323. You can also donate to vital programs and services advocating for brain injury survivors.