Finding the Right Caregiver After TBI
If I could give an example of a situation where finding the right person was not necessarily obvious at the beginning. I suppose it's often useful to tell stories about our own mistakes. I certainly learn from my mistakes. I hope I learn from my mistakes. We don't always know that we made a mistake, unfortunately. But this is one where I did have that opportunity. It didn't happen to be an Hispanic family. I was working with a young man with a traumatic brain injury, and one of the consequences of that injury was a lot of difficulty with initiation. He was motivated. He wanted to do the things that were needed in the household, and the household was him and his wife, but he didn't initiate, he didn't prioritize well and he couldn't organize. And his wife, who was also employed and going to school and very busy, also was very willing to work with him on that, but it wound up that trying to cue him and trying to work with him around doing lists of things to do and prioritizing and so forth was just too much of a strain on her, and it was sometimes difficult to get her to come in to appointments and so on. And so we kept on working at it and sludging, and it went on for about a year that way until finally we arrived at and I got his mother-in-law to come in, her mother. She lived right across the street, which was very handy. And when I talked about what I had been observing and what we were trying to do, she was right with me and she was, "Oh, yeah. I can do that, I can do that, and I can do that." And I said, "We're also thinking about making a referral "to the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation "because it's getting ready to be almost time to go back to work." And I said, "And the phone number is--" And she gave me the phone number. She worked for another state division, made frequent referral to the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, had a background that was enough related to be able to think in that way and to be a natural teacher-trainer. And since then they've been getting together five to ten minutes a day, going over a list of things to do, what the priorities are, what got in the way last time, how to make sure it gets done this time, and things are just moving right along. And it hasn't disrupted--in fact, it's improved the marital relationship because his wife is much relieved at not having to deal with that and quite happy to have her mother do that with him. She's just enough removed that she isn't as emotionally invested in whether he does it or not but close enough to be invested enough to care that it succeeds. And so at last we arrived at the right person [laughs] after a year of struggle.
Posted on BrainLine April 29, 2009.
Tedd Judd, PhD is adjunct clinical faculty in psychology, University of Washington and adjunct faculty in psychology, Seattle Pacific University. Much of his work has focused on traumatic brain injury rehabilitation.