There are practical daily life activities that caregivers and their
loved ones face every day. How we handle these situations
determines the extent of healing and the respect and dignity your loved
ones experience. We need to know when to sit back and let them be
and when to step in and help.Click to Tweet
We must hone our communication skills
to effectively manage situations that arise with conflict. In my case,
our communication strategies required significant shifts with my dad
as a result of his TBI. There is a difference between care giving and
care taking. Often, we think by doing things for our loved ones we are
helping them. In reality, the very thing we think is helping them
actually serves to create sadness, inferiority, anger, hostility, and
adversely affect their well-being.
In sum, it can have a reverse effect
and take away what little independence they may have left.
We need to be prepared with the right tools to handle these
situations to avoid hurting our loved ones emotionally. Whether
practical matters involve the home or communication with family and
friends, understanding where your loved one is coming from can help
you promote a sense of independence and dignity. Click to tweet
They will respect you and they will respect themselves.
The consequences of brain injuries or other illnesses are unpredictable.
In total, my dad had multiple surgeries, seizures, a brain infection, several
blood clots and TIA’s, (mini-strokes), just to name a few. He suffered continual
short-term memory loss, cognitive deterioration, and lost full use of his right arm.
My dad was a proud man. He rarely asked for help and always
took care of those in need. He became frustrated with himself for not
being able to do things he used to be able to do or talk the way he used
to talk or remember things that came easily for him to remember. I
watched him evolve from being a good patient early on in his recovery
to being an agitated, hostile, angry, and stubborn man.
At first, I wanted to jump and do things to make things easier for
him. While I think I had a good gauge on his limitations, I think we all
misread his abilities at first and did things for him without giving him a
chance to try doing for himself.
Eventually, I learned to relax more and specifically do things for him unless
he asked which usually happened after he tried something repeatedly, got
fed up and gave up. The exception to this hands-off rule was when he learned
to walk with a walker. He was so unstable that someone always had a grip on the back
of his shirt, his arm, or with a gait belt around his waist. This strategy
and intuitive knowing saved him from falling countless times.
I felt so sad seeing my dad this way. As a side note, prior to the
accident, he was in a doctoral degree program. He valued education
and was a lifelong learner. Never one with a shortage of books, CD’s,
tapes, periodicals or magazines to keep his mind sharp, we wondered
whether he would ever be able to read again, much less return to
school and obtain his doctorate degree.
Then, there were times he tried putting aluminum foil in the microwave,
a non oven proof container in the oven, go outside with his socks and keys,
yes, only his socks and keys! Then, there was the one and only time he
tried driving. Driving is a huge no no for someone in his condition and in particular
when he had seizures. I took his license away and that was such a tough
thing for me to do on so many levels; yet, it was required for his safety and the
safety of those around him. We tried our best to balance things and, for
the most part, we did a good job. It’s a tough job out there for caregivers
to figure this out. My biggest piece of advice is to assess their capabilities,
risks and do what you can to treat your loved one with respect when
they need tough love.
YOUR TURN: Have you been a caregiver? What issues about keeping your loved ones safe have you faced? PLEASE COMMENT BELOW!