Over half of all Americans who have experienced a spinal cord injury live with some degree of paralysis. Paralysis from a spinal cord injury makes many individuals dependent on loved ones for care and assistance. Feelings of dependency may cause some initial challenges for the family caregiver, including:
- Causing the person to withdraw. Many people find it difficult to cope with a loss of even some independence and they may feel ashamed to ask for help.
- The person may feel that he or she has become a burden to loved ones.
- The person may struggle with self-image and self-esteem following his or her injury, which may manifest as anger and resentment toward others.
Family caregivers must be prepared to face any of these reactions as daily life changes for their loved one and for themselves. It is important to remember, though, that having these feelings is not wrong – the person has a right to his or her feelings. Suggesting that he or she does not feel a certain way or that he or she should feel differently may be met with more resistance or anger.
As you help your loved one through the day-to-day struggles of adjusting to a new life, it can be helpful to lean on other family members, friends, or support groups to help navigate the tough areas. The following are some tips for caring for a loved one with a spinal cord injury:
- Keep the whole family involved and informed. Share basic medical and clinical information as well as the care plan you’ve developed with your loved one’s doctor and in-home care provider.
- Encourage your loved one to join a support group, and find one for yourself and other members of the family as well. A sense of community can reduce feelings of isolation and help the entire family better communicate their feelings. Seek out your local chapter of the National Spinal Cord Injury Association or the Paralyzed Veterans of America for more information.
- Take care of yourself by exercising and eating properly, and seek help when dealing with the toughest, most physically demanding jobs.
- Focus on what your loved one can do instead of what he or she can’t do. Allow the person to be as independent as possible. Ask if he or she needs help before stepping in to do things for him or her.
- Take advantage of respite care. Set aside time to rest, relax, and take care of your own life.
Genacta In-Home Care of Alaska can help families of persons with disabilities create a better quality of lives for themselves and their loved ones. Contact us today to learn more about our wide array of in-home care services for individuals with disabilities.