Supporting a loved one who has an injury can be a daunting and stressful time. You might be in a position to help a family member or friend, but may also be unsure what you can do.
It's a near certainty that someone with an injury will need help at some point, and those with serious life changing injuries may need help for the rest of their lives. A serious injury could leave your loved one wondering how they will be able to adjust to their new way of life. By providing physical and emotional support, you can help make the life of someone who has suffered an injury easier and much more bearable.
There are many ways in which you can offer support to someone who is recovering from injury. In this article, we will explore the top 5 ways you can provide help and assistance.
1. Provide emotional support
Those who have suffered an injury will often experience a combination of physical pain and deep emotional distress. It goes without saying that an injury can be incredibly painful, but the emotional anguish caused by a trauma can be equally as debilitating. Most people who suffer an injury will experience some degree of emotional distress which can include:
There are a number of ways you can provide emotional support to a loved one in distress, and being a good listener is a great way to start. Allowing someone who has suffered an injury to talk through their fears and frustrations is one way of offering emotional support. You don't even have to say anything - in fact, false reassurances like 'everything will be okay' can have a negative effect on the person who has suffered an injury. Try to create a calm and safe atmosphere, offer reassurance when it is needed and allow someone with an injury some space if they require it.
Some things to avoid when offering emotional support would be:
- Don't try and jolly people by getting them to look on the funny side of their injury, in time this may be something they are able to do.
- Saying 'I know just how you feel' can sometimes agitate a person.
- Don't try and hurry a person with an injury, as they may not be in the best frame of mind to make decisions quickly.
2. Ensure a person with an injury keeps appointments with a doctor
It is vital that someone with an injury is assessed by their doctor or specialist on a regular basis. Medical practitioners will provide the care needed for an injured person to get better, and this may come in the form of cognitive therapy, speech therapy and physiotherapy. Being able to coordinate an injured person's schedule and travel arrangements to attend all medical appointments can speed the rate at which they recover.
It may be that a person's injury is so severe that your ability to carry out this task is paramount to their ongoing care. For example, a person recovering from a brain injury may be physically and mentally unable to schedule and attend these appointments, making your help all the more vital to their recovery.
3. Make sure they don't push themselves too much
After suffering an injury a loved one could be in denial about the severity of their condition and the effect it will have on their lives. If a person has lost their independence due to an injury it could lead to them exerting themselves too much.
Resting properly is more important and sometimes trickier than people realise. Try to take the load off an injured person by helping them around the home, washing dishes if they are in a wheelchair or hoovering. Helping a person get in and out of the shower or putting on clothes can reduce the stress of recovery. By providing the physical support an injured person needs, you can speed up their recovery and more importantly help avoid further injury. As an injured person recovers, help them to become more independent gradually, increasing their confidence to carry out tasks and activities before, hopefully becoming fully independent once more.
4. Lifestyle changes and diet
A serious injury may require a person to undertake lifestyle changes. Helping someone to come to terms with these lifestyle changes and helping to facilitate them can be crucial to an injured loved one's health.
It may be the case that an injury has stopped someone from being able to drive and it will be up to you to either provide a taxi service or to coordinate public transport. Activities that someone once enjoyed such as cycling or going to gym might be more difficult or impossible to do after an injury. Supporting someone to find solutions so they can still enjoy activities or find alternative activities can promote a healthy body and mind.
An injury can also lead to a prolonged period of inactivity. Changes in diet can help reduce weight gain and maintain wellbeing. By monitoring the number of calories an injured person eats you can help them stay healthy while they rest. Lots of fruit and vegetables will help with mental health, which is especially import for someone who is recovering from a brain injury who may also be suffering from confusion or depression. Examples of healthy foods that can help with recovery are:
Broccoli: Rich in vitamin C which helps our bodies to maintain cartilage and bone tissue. Vitamin C also aids the healing process for skin, scar tissue, tendons, ligaments and blood vessels.
Sweet Potato: Contains vitamin A which promotes the production of white blood cells in your body. White blood cells help your body fight off infection and disease.
Fish: A great source of omega-3 fatty acids that help reduce inflammation.
Chicken: Contains zinc which helps the growth and healing of injured tissue. Zinc also helps your immune system stay strong against viruses and infections.
Blueberries: Contain antioxidants that act as a natural anti-inflammatory.
Eggs: When your body sustains an injury it increases its need for protein to aid the healing process. Eggs are an excellent source of protein.
5. Make sure medication is taken
Medication will almost certainly be a vital part of someone's recovery from a serious injury. Ensuring they take their medication is important to alleviate and treat pain and symptoms. For example, a person recovering from a brain injury may be left confused and forgetful and will require someone to organise and monitor their medication intake.
It may also fall on you to administer medication to a loved one with an injury. Ensure you have been fully briefed by a medical professional and know what you are doing before attempting to help anyone with their medication.
As you can see, there are a number of things you can do to help a loved one recover from injury. The support you provide will be a crucial part of their recovery. There will be some hard times and there may be moments when you feel your interventions are not helping, although be assured, the support you provide to an injured family member or friend will be hugely appreciated.