Information for Carers and Families

How having an ABI affects daily life

The impacts of a brain injury go beyond the person with the injury, affecting partners, friends, family, Carers and work colleagues.

Some of the common issues that families face including:

  • The son or daughter with an injury being dependent and returning to the family home despite having previously lived away from home prior to the injury.
  • Feeling confronted by the changed personality of the family member, and having trouble ‘letting go’ of the ‘old’ person they knew before the injury.
  • If the person with the brain injury has children, the child has to come to terms with why their parent has changed so dramatically - there may be relationship breakdown between the child and their parent.
  • Negative parenting such as yelling or being impatient by both injured and uninjured parents is reported in most families.

The risk of marital and relationship breakdown is very high following brain injury. Pressures on the spouse or partner can include:

  • Being the sole wage earner, and having to increase or decrease their hours of work.
  • Having to run a household on their own.
  • Financial strain due to medical bills and loss of income.
  • A change in the sexual relationship of a couple, involving either a reduced sexual drive (hyposexuality) or increased sexual drive (hypersexuality).
  • Dealing with personality change and cognitive deficits.

Family members’ and partner’s emotional responses to the situation may include:

  • Guilt – feeling responsible for the injury occurring, not wanting to be a carer, losing their temper or being embarrassed by the person being cared for.
  • Anger – they may become frustrated with the person they’re caring for if they regularly face challenging behaviours arising from a brain injury.
  • Resentment – can arise from a lack of support from family friends and support services, and the focus is often on the person with the brain injury.
  • Fear – concerns about the future can cause fear. There is frequently stress associated with the litigation process and the uncertain outcome in court.
  • Stress – the demands of caring can cause stress over a very long period of time, causing headaches, difficultly sleeping, emotional, anxiety and tiredness.
  • Depression – over time, you can stop feeling angry or sad about your situation and become depressed.
  • Grief – family members feel they have lost their loved one but are unable to say ‘goodbye’.

For some, the caring duties have overwhelmed their life to the point they feel they have also lost their former lifestyle. Your task in the process of recovery is to sort out what you are feeling and seek out help - perhaps with a counsellor who has an awareness of brain injury.

Coping strategies:

  • Acknowledge your reactions to stressful experiences.
  • Accept support, such as talking over your feelings and experiences or getting help with housework.
  • Be aware other family members may deal with the situation very differently to you.
  • Make a routine for structure in your life.
  • Seek respite care, as this can provide valuable time out for carers.
  • Have reasonable expectations of yourself.  There will be times when you feel overwhelmed. Counselling may assist to give you support and ideas for coping in your situation.
  • Take a break from caring to pursue your interests, as relaxing is good for your physical and mental health.

Please remember that you’re not alone.
Our service is free and confidential. 

Tel: (08) 9330 6370 
Freecall: 1800 626 370
Fax: (08) 9317 2264