When a loved one faces a significant injury, it changes their life dramatically and also affects how they interact with others. In a matter of moments, your loved one went from enjoying complete independence to having to rely on friends and family in new and unforeseen ways.
Like your injured loved one, you never expected to be faced with this situation. Regardless of how much support you can provide to them, you play an essential part in helping your loved one adapt to the unanticipated changes in their life.
Here are some tips for supporting a loved one after a major injury.
Be prepared for your role to change
Before the injury, you may have been the person your loved one counted on for late night chats or weekend adventures. It can be very hard to accept that your loved one still needs you in their life, and the support you offer could change dramatically because of the injuries.
For most, recovering from a significant injury takes time and demands substantial effort. An injured person might spend weeks or months working hard on their rehabilitation, and fortunately their abilities return to pre-accident levels. In other cases, the effects are more permanent and sometimes catastrophic, especially when faced with traumatic brain injuries.
As you support your loved one through this process, keep in mind that at some point significant progress may cease, and maximum medical improvement, or MMI, is reached. For the injured person, the accomplishment of even the simplest of daily living tasks may require support from you and others.
Listening is key
There is often an important difference between the words someone says and what they actually mean. Your loved one may be reluctant to ask for help, so try to determine areas where they appear to need support, such as:
- Help with physical therapy
- Assistance with household tasks
- Coping with loneliness
- Helping other household members such as their children or aging parents
Watch for signs that your loved one is stressed and try to reach out in some way to alleviate that stress. If they seem frustrated or angry, it might be because the tasks they were able to perform before the injury now seem impossible to them.
Supporting a loved one after a major injury is vital to their well-being. It is possible to maintain your relationship with them while adjusting to the changes caused by the injury. Make an effort to pay attention to their needs, remember that their life has changed dramatically, and remain flexible in providing the proper support over time.