I’m caring for someone with a brain injury
Brain injuries can happen in a variety of ways, including stroke, aneurysm, loss of oxygen to the brain, infectious diseases and trauma. Causes of traumatic brain injuries could include falls, motor vehicle accidents, sports injuries, combat injuries and acts of violence.
Every person’s experience with brain injury is unique, but there are many common symptoms and emotions, including:
- Trouble with memory, learning, reasoning, judgment and concentration
- Inability to solve problems, make plans, multitask or make decisions
- Inability to organize thoughts and ideas
- Difficulty speaking and participating in conversations
- Difficulty with self-control
- Difficulty in social situations
- Verbal and/or physical outbursts
- Feelings of anger, irritability and sadness
- Sleep issues, headaches, dizziness, and vision impairment
Recovery from a brain injury could take months or even years and some people will experience problems for the rest of their lives.
Types of support you may need to provide
Caring for someone with a brain injury can be very challenging. The more you can learn about brain injuries, the better you’ll be able to help them make informed decisions about therapy and work towards recovery. If you are able to, go to appointments with your care recipient, and bring a list of questions with you for their healthcare team.
Caregiver tips for personal care, physical and medical support:
- Determine what you are and aren’t comfortable doing. Be honest with yourself and the person you’re caring for about what you can realistically do
- Talk about your role – it’s important that you, your care recipient and the healthcare team know what you will be doing as a caregiver
- Look into what home care services are available where you live. Home care staff can help with administering medication, bathing and also teach you tasks like how to turn someone in bed
- Ask about getting assistive devices such as a walker, lift, wheelchair, shower chair, grab bar or portable commode if needed
Caregiver tips for communication and emotional support:
- Help them live as normally as possible. Encourage them to continue with their usual day-to-day life as much as they can
- Try not to take over a task. Instead, try coaching, making suggestions or asking how you can help
- Be patient and try not to interrupt. Allow the person to find the words at their own pace
- Recognize that outbursts may be an indication that they are frustrated or tired – try to determine the cause to avoid future triggers where possible
- Limit overstimulation, such as large crowds and loud noises
- Look into communication devices to assist your care recipient
- Encourage them to share their feelings with you. Let them know it’s OK to express fears and concerns
- Connect with Ontario Brain Injury Association to find support or call 1-800-263-5404.
- See also, I’m caring for someone who had a stroke
- See also, I’m caring for someone with mobility/physical disability
- See also,mental health and well-being resources
- Connect with other young caregivers in our online peer support group or be part of the conversation in our online forum
Not sure where to start? Call our 24/7 helpline or talk to us in our live chat to find resources in your community.