Supporting a loved one with a brain injury

Last Updated on 8th November 2022

Brain injuries are, of course, incredibly difficult for all of those involved but particularly the patient suffering. The road to recovery can be long and hard and may require a person to relearn things all over again which can be frustrating for them but also can be stressful for family and friends who have to watch their loved one suffer. As such, knowing how to best support and care for someone with a brain injury is essential for a successful transition back to everyday life.

Be patient and understanding

While it may be stressful and confronting when supporting a loved one with a brain injury, you must be aware that this is likely the worst experience of their life and they are within their right to be frustrated or impatient with their own inability to perform the same tasks as before.

The best way to understand how your loved one may be feeling is to educate yourself on their injury and its effects. This will help you to realise potential triggers as well as know that any hostility that may occur between the two of you is normal. Brain injuries can cause emotional or behavioural issues, particularly if the injury caused frontal lobe trauma so it is important to stay patient and calm during these times and help them through it as best as possible.

long term head injury

Focus on familiarity

Brain injuries can cause feelings of disorganisation due to the brain changes that occur. As such, focusing on familiarity and everyday routines can be a great way to help your loved one feel like they are in control.

Sharing stories or photo albums of familiar places and people can also be a great way to gently remind and comfort your loved one, especially if they are having memory problems due to their brain injury. There is no ‘cure’ for memory problems as the brain will heal over time and memories can naturally return during this period.

Help them to avoid stress

A great way to support a loved one is to help them to get everything in order for their return home. This could be as simple as tidying their home and doing some washing to helping them to organise their finances. Due to the time off work needed for recovery, there may be additional stress about how your loved one will be able to cope financially. You may find that you can help them to make a brain injury claim which may result in compensation that can help to support them through recovery, rehabilitation and any long-term problems that may arise.

Providing emotional support is also key to helping your loved one avoid stress. Over 50% of traumatic brain injury survivors experience depression during their first year of injury, so providing support and encouragement during their recovery will benefit them in more ways than one.

Look after yourself

Many caregivers may feel guilt about how tired or frustrating caring for their loved one can be. To care for your loved one effectively you need to take breaks and do things that you enjoy otherwise you will become exhausted, both physically and mentally. It is important to remember that you are not alone in this and there are many support groups out there that can help both you and your loved one, so don’t be afraid to ask for help.