A caregiver’s role starts immediately after the injury and evolves with time as it is difficult for hemiplagia or paraplegia affected persons to carry out their daily activities. The role of a caregiver is demanding and challenging. Because recovery from injury is never a linear process and needs of the survivors vary, it also demands necessary adaptations in the role of a caregiver. As the survivors regain strength or independence, the caregiver’s role might lessen. Thus, it is crucial to have open communication with the stroke survivor to ensure you are compliant with their changing needs.
6 Tips for Caregivers
The following points need be considered by the caregivers of paraplegic/hemiplegic patients.
1. Educating Yourself
- One of the most crucial aspects of being a compassionate caregiver is to acquire thorough knowledge on the condition, management, and prognosis
- The more you learn, the better you will be able to care for the patient
- Participate in rehabilitation therapy sessions to update your knowledge
2. Stroke Rehabilitation Programs
- Encourage the survivor to learn and practice new skills
- Don’t reach out to help the patient too much, encourage them to do things by themselves gradually
- Encourage and appreciate them on every small accomplishment as this will boost their confidence and push them towards becoming more self-reliant
3. Home Safety Measures
- Move the bedroom to the ground floor and avoid stairs, if possible
- Get rid of rugs to prevent falls
- Install grab bars and elevated seats in the bathroom and shower
- Install lights on areas of walk and keep them on throughout the night
- Keep a mobile or cordless phone next to the patient, so they can contact a concerned person immediately
4. Body Care
- If the person is bed ridden, change the position of the patient every 2 hours; if pressure sores are found, immediately report it to the treating healthcare professional
- Promote and encourage the survivor to visit a commode instead of the bedpan
- Promote bathing over sponging. Make the bathroom safer by installing rubber mats to avoid slippery floors, install wall grab bars for support
- Encourage self-dressing and the use of the affected limb
- Try out different methods of wearing shirts, socks, trousers, etc.
5. Emotional Care
- Depression is the commonest emotion experienced by the person
- Some of the warning signs of depression to watch out by a caregiver are:
- Over sleeping
- Loss of interest
- Negative thoughts
- Changes in weight, loss of appetite
- Changes in the mood are gradual, making it difficult to notice instantaneously; thus, be vigilant
- Avoid the use of anti-depressants as they can cause side-effects
- Caregivers can provide emotional support by
- being candid with the survivors about their feelings
- Having active conversation about friends, family, activities, etc.
- Getting them actively involved in the world around them
- Sharing jokes and funny moments
- Caregivers should also encourage visitors to do the same
- All these activities help maintain interest and optimism in survivors and reduce the feeling of disconnect
6. Taking Care of Yourself
- Being a caregiver is like becoming a parent, so don’t forget to take care of your life as well
- You have all the right to enjoy your free time and activities. Participate in your favorite activities often.
- Keep in mind your physical health. Get yourself regularly checked by healthcare professionals, eat an healthy diet, exercise regularly, and sleep adequately.
- Take care of your emotional health by sharing your frustration, anger, and sadness with your loved ones
- Forgive yourself for not being a perfect caregiver as caring for survivors and chronic sufferers may turn your life inside out
Survivors of paraplegia and hemiplegia suffer both physically and emotionally. They can be compared to children and require special attention. Physical as well as emotional support is important for recovery. Supporting and encouraging their every small success aids in recovery because they feel enthused to perform better. With some extra attention and caution you can ensure that your patient or loved one recovers rapidly