Caring for a quadriplegic at home is tough because you essentially become their arms and legs.
Although being a caregiver for someone with quadriplegia can be very demanding, it can also be incredibly rewarding.
This article will go over what you should keep in mind when caring for a quadriplegic at home and how to approach their recovery after inpatient rehabilitation.
The Right Mentality When Caring For A Quadriplegic at Home
It can be exhausting both physically and mentally to be caring for someone with quadriplegia at home. Some days will be better than others.
Think of your loved one and you as a team. You both need to work together to accomplish day-to-day tasks.
If one of you is being difficult, the other will absorb that negative energy and become discouraged. Both of you need to try your best to stay positive and cooperative for each other’s sake.
Obviously, this is much easier said than done. Spinal cord injury recovery is as much an emotional battle as it is a physical one.
Some days, your loved one will be discouraged by their paralysis and resist your help.
This can make tasks much more difficult and make you feel all sorts of negative emotions.
Here are some things to keep in mind that will help you push through those difficult times.
For the Caregiver Feeling Underappreciated
You’re not a bad person if you feel underappreciated as a caregiver for someone with quadriplegia.
You give so much of your time and energy to be a caregiver that you can’t help but expect a little bit of gratitude in return.
It’s more than just doing the right thing. We all seek purpose in what we do, and when we lose sight of it, we start to get discouraged.
Sometimes you need to remind yourself why you’re doing what you do. It’s so easy to get caught up in the moment and become resentful or annoyed.
When you take a couple of minutes every day to remind yourself why you’re a caregiver and all the things that make it worth it, you’ll become more motivated to keep going.
You can’t control how others act, so sometimes you need to be your own cheerleader and remind yourself that you’re doing a great job.
Especially in the beginning, dealing with quadriplegia can be overwhelming. Try not to take the opposition personally.
Although the person you’re caring for does appreciate you, they may be so consumed by the drastic change in lifestyle that they forget to express it.
For the Caregiver Feeling Exhausted, Frustrated, or Stressed
A big thing about being a caregiver for someone with quadriplegia is that you spend so much time trying to take care of your loved one that you don’t take the time to care for yourself.
But how can you take care of someone else if you don’t take care of yourself?
You need to take care of your own health to be healthy and energized enough to take care of someone with quadriplegia.
Take advantage of your downtime! You won’t always be on the go, and there will be periods where you can do your thing. Whether you decide to take that time to rest or do something you enjoy is up to you.
If you’re caring for a loved one on your own, it’s not selfish to take some time for yourself. Don’t be hesitant to ask others for help.
You can also hire a caregiver that will come on a set schedule to take over for a certain amount of time each week.
Sometimes staying at home all day can make you feel trapped. Get yourself out of the house every once in a while to refresh your mind with a change of environment.
Whenever you’re feeling frustrated or stressed, just take a minute to step out of the situation and breathe.
You and the person you’re caring for need to have mutual respect for one another and openly communicate. Being too passive can build up tension and harm the relationship in the long-run.
Finding the Right Caregiver for Someone with Quadriplegia
As much as you want to help your loved one, sometimes it’s just not feasible for you to stop working to become their caregiver.
Hiring a caregiver may be a better option for those who can’t necessarily be there all the time.
As with any good pair, the caregiver and patient must be a good fit personality-wise. Some personalities clash more than others, so it’s essential to find a suitable match that won’t make things more complicated than they have to be.
Some caregivers may already have a set way of doing certain things while others are more open to adjusting to what the person they’re caring for prefers.
It might even be a good idea to have multiple caregivers for your loved one. Splitting up the responsibility helps put less pressure on each caregiver and allows them to have time for themselves so they won’t burn out.
To read about other spinal cord injury patients’ experiences with caregivers, check out this page from our partners at United Spinal.
Caring for a Quadriplegic at Home
The higher the level of injury, the more dependent people with quadriplegia will be on their caretakers.
If the person you’re taking care of has incomplete quadriplegia and can still control some parts of their arms, encourage them to keep using them through arm or hand exercises.
The fact that they can move their arms at all means that some connection between the brain and body still exists.
After a spinal cord injury, the damaged connections can forget how to perform specific tasks and need to relearn them through repetition.
The more you repeat a movement, the more you’re promoting that neural connection and the easier it gets to perform.
So instead of doing everything for your loved one, try to encourage them to try to do things on their own.
You’re there to make sure that they stay safe and to help when they need it.
If you do everything for them, you’re going to exhaust yourself and your loved one will not recover because there’s minimal effort being put into moving again.
A caregiver will help with daily tasks like bathing, toileting, eating, dressing, and transportation.
Your loved one will need the most help at the beginning, but once they get accustomed to life after spinal cord injury, you should gradually withdraw. You may be surprised at how much they can do on their own.
Hopefully, this article helped you get into the right mindset for caring for someone with quadriplegia at home. Good luck!