Effects of Rehabilitation on the Family

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.

What are the possible effects of disability on the family?

Family members are also affected by your disability. In many cases, they may become co-managers 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 due to medical bills or unemployment can occur, adding more stress on the family. Changes in living arrangements, childcare issues, and community re-entry can all pose new problems.

By working together with the rehab team, you and your family can help reduce some of the adverse effects of disability:

  • Identify how the disability affects the family

  • Work together on realistic solutions

  • Take part in family education and counseling

  • Plan for discharge and community re-entry

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 are motivated to take care of you. But the emotional and physical toll of caregiving can be overwhelming at times. First of all, 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. An additional concern is maintaining good communication with the healthcare team and other available resources. This role is time-consuming and can be confusing. The various roles may require a caregiver to: 

  • Investigate and suggest resources to ensure independence in the home

  • Facilitate and provide physical care for the impaired family member

  • Contribute financially to the home

  • Care for other family members

  • Respond to the ups and downs in rehab care

  • Ensure that contractors and builders are licensed and insured

What can be done to help caregivers?

Caregivers must be educated to meet the demands of your rehab plan. In fact, they should be included in the development of this plan. Specifically, educational topics should include:

  • The cause and effect of the injury or illness

  • Any possible complications of the injury or illness, and information on how to recognize and prevent these complications

  • Medicines, their schedule, side effects, and functions

  • Required exercises and task-learning techniques

  • The social and emotional tasks of your rehab

  • How to get you back into the community after rehab

If this preparation is not provided, caregivers may be overprotective and unwittingly impede 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 perhaps is 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: Daphne Pierce-Smith RN MSN
Online Medical Reviewer: Thomas N Joseph MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Trina Bellendir PT
Date Last Reviewed: 11/1/2020
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