How to support a loved one’s Physiotherapy
When you’re a caregiver, it’s important to keep things in perspective. Bouncing back from surgery or illness can take longer than you expect. Try to think of your loved one’s rehab as a marathon, not a sprint.
Expect Ups and Downs
The person you’re caring for may make huge strides one day and slide backward the next. That’s normal. Don’t worry if a sudden burst of recovery is followed by a standstill. It’s fine as long as there’s an overall upward slope.
If you don’t see gradual improvement over time, talk to their doctor.
Set Realistic Goals
Base your expectations for their ability to move on how well they got around before their surgery or illness.
The goal is to get the patient back to their prior level of function. If they walked 50 feet with a rolling walker, that’s the goal. If they were walking 500 feet — that should be the goal.
In the beginning, they may need to use things like a cane, crutches, or a walker.
Expect progress to unfold in stages. During the first phase, for example, crutches may help your loved one feel comfortable as he builds up strength. Then they’ll move to the next stage, which may be walking on their own.
Independence is a positive, realistic target to shoot for. The more they can do themselves, the better.
Celebrate Small Victories
Even a tiny improvement is something to cheer about. In the beginning, it can be as simple as sitting up in bed. It’s the first step toward getting around more freely.
Each small step is a sign of progress. Celebrate each one in all its glory. Give your loved one a hug or a high-five when they pass some key milestones:
- Dresses themselves for the first time
- Showers by themselves
- Walks up steps
- Strolls outside
- Drives a car
Keep in mind that recovery can take an emotional toll. The mental part is hard, too The biggest help is just having someone there to listen.
Your loved one may be frustrated that they need to rely on you to get around, especially if they’re used to being independent. That’s very difficult for a lot of people to work through. Your support and patience can be a big help.
Help, but Not Too Much
As a caregiver, you may feel like you want to do as much as you can for your loved one. But that can backfire. If you do everything for them, they’ll lose motivation to do things for themselves.
The trick is to help without doing too much. For example, guide them out of bed, but don’t physically lift them out. Be there if you need to, but don’t be so gung-ho to do it for them. In other words, help them help themselves.
Reassure your loved one that recovery takes time and remind them how far they have come. When they say, “I wish I didn’t need help just to walk to the end of the driveway,” tell them, “But a week ago, you couldn’t even walk out your front door.”