Blog Home > Blog > 5 Tips for Caring for Someone With a TBI: Traumatic Brain Injuries for Family Caregivers

1.4 million Americans manage a brain injury each year, according to the CDC. They can be caused by anything from a fall or assault, to a motor vehicle accident – any incident in which the head or skull is struck or penetrated. These injuries can wind up causing temporary injuries, or permanently incapacitate the victim, and many of the signs and symptoms ebb and flow. In this article, we’ll provide practical tips for caring for someone with an ever-unpredictable traumatic brain injury (TBI). Let’s dive in.

5 Tips for Caring for Someone with a Traumatic Brain Injury

As we briefly touched on, a traumatic brain injury can cause symptoms that range from acute to chronic, and minor to severe. No two brain injuries are exactly the same, so the most important advice is to keep an open mind and have a lot of patience as you navigate its potential complexities together. Here are five tips for caring for someone with a TBI.

1. Ask Questions and Learn

The first and most important thing you can do when a loved one needs help because of a traumatic brain injury is to start learning what you can about what to expect through their recovery. 

There are a lot of ways to do that, including:

  • Documenting anomalies or patterns in behavior so you can present them to the medical professionals overseeing your loved one’s care.
  • Asking the primary care team overseeing their care or recovery any and all of  the questions you have.
  • Reading the resources available on websites like,, and
  • Joining support groups for caregivers caring for someone with a traumatic brain injury to find camaraderie, share resources and information, and 

2. Have Patience

When navigating a traumatic brain injury, the symptoms vary in more ways than one. The brain is an organ we know relatively little about (especially when compared to its importance), and injuries to it can affect:

  • Mood
  • Personality
  • Memory
  • Thinking
  • Learning
  • Preferences
  • And more

No two brain injuries are exactly alike. So when caring for someone with a traumatic brain injury, it’s important to offer as much patience as you can muster. 

Some days may be better than others. Some weeks they could show signs of one thing, only to show signs of the opposite coming true the next. Patience isn’t always easy, but it’s one of the best skills to start sharpening as you embark on this journey.

3. Catalog Symptoms

Another tip to help your loved one as they heal is to keep a log of any new behavioral trends or anomalies you notice. You never know what could be relevant (or irrelevant), so keeping a solid record will be your best tool during your limited time in front of medical professionals.

As we touched on, there’s an invisible side to brain injuries that can make them especially difficult for you as a caregiver to handle both emotionally and physically. Wherever possible, document – don’t rely on your brain to remember the details, because you may find them hard to recall when they matter most.

4. Let Them Do as Much as They Can

Independence is key to prolonging mental stability and/or healing. If your loved one can or wants to do something (without risk of further harm), let them. 

Trying to handle too much on their behalf, while well intentioned, can easily make them feel inadequate or inept. This can further diminish their sense of independence and self-importance, potentially leading to future anxiousness or depression-like symptoms or reduced recovery. 

Working and strengthening the brain is good for all of us. Those with an injured brain are no exception.

5. Take Time for Yourself

As a caregiver, there are a lot of responsibilities you’ll shoulder throughout the journey. One of the most irritatingly cliche, yet true statements is that you cannot pour from an empty cup. 

Not caring for yourself will hinder your care for your loved one, so if you won’t take time for yourself on your own behalf, do it for the loved one in your care. Whether that means hiring respite care, or communicating and delegating to other trusted loved ones, it’s important to care for yourself too.

Closing Thoughts: Caring for Someone with a TBI 

Traumatic brain injuries are an incredibly challenging ailment for both you as a family caregiver and your loved one who’s suffering. Regardless of the cause or severity, navigating the complexities of TBIs can be tricky but you don’t have to do it all alone. 

If you’re providing care for a loved one with a TBI, the California Caregiver Resource Centers are here to support you. We are a non-profit network of 11 Centers that support caregivers across the state of California. Every county in the state is covered.

Further Reading: Caring for the Caregiver: Navigating Mental Health Challenges

Caring for the Caregiver: Navigating Mental Health Challenges is an article dedicated to the well-documented difficulties the role of caregiver presents. 

Being a caregiver is a labor of love, but it’s not an easy path. The National Institute of Health (NIH) has uncovered some important insights into the mental health of caregivers, and it’s crucial to shed light on this subject. Click here to read the article.

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