A serious injury doesn’t just change the victim’s life. Suddenly, their friends and family face extreme uncertainty and tough decisions, all while coping with their own grief.
If you’re facing this situation, you need all the help you can get. In this article, we’ll discuss some practical tips and strategies that can make caring for an injured person seem less overwhelming and more manageable.
Caring for an Accident Victim Isn’t Easy
A catastrophic accident inevitably leaves the victim’s family reeling. The shock of seeing a seriously hurt family member can be devastating. On top of that, if your loved one is too injured to make their own medical decisions, you might find yourself trying to balance your own emotional challenges with the responsibility of making weighty choices about your loved one’s medical treatment and long-term care.
Caring for an injured person also requires a lot of attention to detail and plenty of patience. It’s important to remember that your loved one is dealing with severe pain, emotional trauma, and the prospect of a completely different and much more restricted life after their injury.
What to Expect in the Long Term
Even once your loved one’s condition stabilizes, your role as a caregiver won’t necessarily become any simpler. You might find yourself having to juggle all of the following:
- Your loved one’s basic needs (such as feeding, hygiene, and transportation)
- Searching for nursing facilities and home health care providers that meet your needs and budget
- Coordinating multiple appointments with your loved one’s doctors, therapists, and other medical providers
- Guiding your loved one through physical, mental, and emotional challenges
- Struggling to pay medical bills related to the accident
- Arguing with insurance companies and government benefits programs
- Dealing with sadness and grief relating to the accident and your loved one’s disability
Managing the day-to-day care of someone with serious disabilities can be physically and emotionally exhausting. However, with some organization and a lot of help, it can get easier over time.
Take Time to Understand Your Loved One’s Diagnosis and Path to Recovery
Knowledge is power. If you don’t understand your loved one’s medical condition and prognosis, you’ll struggle to make informed decisions about their care. Understanding their long-term outlook can also help you frame your expectations about the likelihood of a full recovery and keep you from feeling disappointed when they don’t get better as fast as you hoped.
Learning to Strike a Balance
As a caregiver, you have to walk a fine line between allowing your loved one to process their emotions and take responsibility for their health care and making sure that they follow through and get the care they need, even when they’re tired and they’d rather be doing anything else than going to another doctor’s appointment.
In general, you’ll have to:
- Provide emotional support
- Make sure they keep their healthcare appointments
- Help them follow their doctors’ orders
- Support them in embracing a healthy, holistic lifestyle
- Keep them from pushing too hard and getting exhausted
Some days, you might feel more like a parent than a partner. However, the long-term benefits for your loved one can be well worth it, even though it’s challenging along the way.
RELATED: Life After Paralysis: What to Expect
Tend to Your Own Health and Wellness
When you’re focusing on someone else’s health, it’s easy to ignore your own wellness. According to several studies of caregivers:
- 40–70% show symptoms of depression
- 72% don’t see their doctors frequently enough
- 63% report having an unhealthy diet
- 58% said they experienced a decrease in exercise and physical activity after becoming a caregiver
Self-care is a crucial part of succeeding as a caregiver. Taking time to care for your health and wellbeing not only allows you an opportunity to step away and relax, it also improves your ability to care for your disabled loved one over the long term.
If you need time off, consider asking a family member or friend to care for your loved one for a day. If you can’t find someone to help, many local agencies and companies offer respite care services, either on a volunteer or paid basis. Check your area for organizations that may be able to help.
Seek Help from Counselors and Support Networks
Many family members feel isolated and overwhelmed after a catastrophic accident. You might be dealing with anger, grief, anxiety, and other powerful emotions. While you might not want to share all of these feelings with your family and friends, repressing your emotions isn’t healthy and can negatively impact your health and relationships.
Instead, consider speaking with a counselor or joining a support group. These resources can give you an opportunity to process the complicated feelings you’re experiencing and address them constructively. You might also learn about community resources that can help you cope with the daily grind of long-term care, get validation from peers who are also adjusting to the role of caregiver, and learn techniques that help you manage your stress, anxiety, and depression.
Protect Your Loved One’s Legal Rights
After a serious accident, your loved one might require extensive medical treatment, including:
- Modifications to home and vehicles to accommodate their disability
- Outpatient medical care
- Nursing care
- Home health care
These costs add up quickly. According to the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, the average victim with paraplegia spends $518,904 on medical treatment during the first year after their injury and $68,789 in each subsequent year.
Health insurance, Medicare, and Medicaid will only pay for a limited amount of nursing and long-term care. However, if someone else’s negligent behavior caused your loved one’s injuries, then your loved one may be entitled to compensation that can help address the massive financial burden created by medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses and losses.
It’s important to understand, though, that Oklahoma personal injury claims have strict filing deadlines. If you don’t work with an experienced attorney to file your claim within the correct time frame, you’ll lose any chance of receiving compensation for the enormous costs that you and your family are facing.
Atkins & Markoff: Fighting for Injured Victims and Their Families in Oklahoma
At Atkins & Markoff, we fight for the rights of injured Oklahomans and their families. Because we focus on cases involving serious personal injuries, we understand the challenges you’re facing, and we’re here to help.
With more than 100 years of combined experience and more than $100 million recovered for our clients, we’re ready to fight aggressively for justice and compensation on your behalf if we can take your case. We handle all personal injury claims on a contingent fee basis, which means you won’t pay attorney’s fees unless we get you a settlement or win your case in court.
If someone you love has been seriously injured, call us at 405-607-8757 or fill out our quick and easy online contact form to schedule your free initial consultation with an attorney from the Atkins & Markoff team today.
Caregiver statistics. (n.d.). Caregiver Action Network. Retrieved from http://caregiveraction.org/resources/caregiver-statistics.
Costs of living with SCI. (n.d.). Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation. Retrieved from https://www.christopherreeve.org/living-with-paralysis/costs-and-insurance/costs-of-living-with-spinal-cord-injury.
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.