Family Plays a Key Role in Rehabilitation
Your family can play a vital role in your rehabilitation (rehab) process. In fact,
one of the most important factors in your recovery is family involvement and support.
How does your disability affect your family?
Family members are affected by your disability. In many cases, they may become comanagers
of your care. They may undergo many changes as a result of your disability. For instance,
your family members may also grieve your loss of ability. Severe injury, chronic disease,
or disability may mean a change in family roles. A person may need to go back to work
after their partner's disability. An adult son or daughter may need to adjust their
work schedule to help care for an older parent. These changes can cause stress and
conflict in the family. Financial problems from medical bills or unemployment can
occur. These add more stress on the family. Changes in living arrangements, childcare
issues, and re-entry into the community can all pose new problems.
By working together with the rehab team, you and your family can help reduce some
of the negative effects of disability. You can:
Identify how the disability affects the family
Work together on realistic solutions
Take part in family education and counseling
Plan for discharge and re-entry into the community
Why is family support important?
Family acceptance and support can help you deal with issues related to self-esteem
and self-image after disability. Positive attitudes and reinforcement from loved ones
often help you work towards recovery. Family participation, flexibility, and open
communication can overcome many barriers linked to disability. Families who inspire
hope can help you adjust and become more confident in your abilities.
What is the impact of caregiving on the caregiver?
Your family is motivated to take care of you. But the emotional and physical toll
of caregiving can be overwhelming at times. Consider the amount of caregiving that
is expected of families outside the rehab facility. Most caregivers are unpaid family
members or friends that provide full- or part-time care, even when you also have a
As a result, caregivers have unique stress. They often feel unprepared for their caregiving
role. Often they feel isolated, anxious, and depressed. They also need to maintain
good communication with the healthcare team and other available resources. This role
is time-consuming and can be confusing. The various roles may need a caregiver to:
Investigate and suggest resources to make sure you can stay independent at home
Help bring about and provide physical care for the affected family member
Help out financially
Care for other family members
Respond to the ups and downs in rehab care
Make sure that contractors and builders are licensed and insured
What can be done to help caregivers?
Caregivers must be taught how to meet the demands of your rehab plan. In fact, they
should be included when the plan is developed. They need to know:
The cause and effect of the injury or illness
Any possible complications of the injury or illness. They need to know how to recognize
and prevent these complications.
Medicines, their schedule, side effects, and what they do
Needed exercises and task-learning methods
The social and emotional tasks of your rehab
How to get you back into the community after rehab
If this help is not provided, caregivers may be overprotective. This can slow down
your recovery process.
Caregivers also need support. This may be a counseling program or a problem-solving
team meeting. Getting support can help reduce the isolation and anxiety that caregivers
Caregivers must also find some time for themselves, away from their caregiving roles.
This can be the most important coping strategy. But it's often hard to make this happen.
Caregivers play a key role in your successful rehab. As caregivers gain confidence,
they and their loved ones should find caregiving less stressful and more rewarding.