How You Can Help
As the caregiver, you will require many tools to help your loved one recover. Your education in this process is essential for your own welfare as well as the survivor’s well-being.
You will need to set up and execute a rehabilitation treatment plan with direction from a neuropsychologist or other trained rehabilitation professional. This information will be invaluable once the aneurysm survivor has returned home. You should be educated about how to create an ideal environment for rehabilitation progress.
You and your survivor will benefit from working systematically toward planned goals. Those who have no plan sense their lack of direction and become easily discouraged. There are a few important learning principles that you, as the caregiver, should understand:
- Treatment Plan – A good treatment plan identifies problem areas and breaks these issues into manageable steps. For example, a survivor who has problems getting dressed in the morning (due to problems with decision-making, organization, and speed) can learn to select clothing and organize the process by addressing each part of the problem at a time. The most effective treatment plan involves active participation by you during the initial phases of new learning, with gradual withdrawal of support as the survivor learns new habits.
- Survivor Goals – It is important for you to determine the survivor’s goals from a short–term perspective, one behavior at a time. Large paces make it impossible to work on small steps. Patience is a necessary part of the process, as many failures have to be endured to achieve mastery of any skill. Remind your survivor that failures are a necessary part of improvement, rather than something to be ashamed of or embarrassed about.
- Positive Feedback – Progress is generally made when the survivor feels good about accomplishments. Remember to use reinforcements and rewards, to encourage step-by-step progress. Almost everyone responds well to encouragement and approval. We all shrink from angry words and harsh criticism. Punishment, sharp words, criticism, and disapproval are never effective and will only yield side effects such as anger, avoidance, and aggression. A rewarding atmosphere leads to high levels of hope and increased levels of effort.
As the caregiver, you want to see your loved one function independently and successfully. You will need to take advantage of all the support that is available to help you to reach that goal. It will take patience, kindness, and persistence for you and your survivor to achieve results. Always remember that it is possible to see your loved one make great progress in his or her recovery.