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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 healthcare professional.

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 often feel.

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.

Online Medical Reviewer: L Renee Watson MSN RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Raymond Turley Jr PA-C
Online Medical Reviewer: Thomas N Joseph MD
Date Last Reviewed: 2/1/2023
© 2000-2024 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.