Every year, thousands of South Carolinians are injured in motor vehicle accidents, falls, and other serious accidents. Traumatic injuries aren’t just painful and physically debilitating, they often are mentally and emotionally draining as well.
If your loved one is recuperating after a serious injury, you can help make a real difference in their recovery simply by providing understanding support.
Read on to learn more about specific ways you can help an injured loved one after a serious injury.
9 Steps to Managing Life-Changing Injuries
The negative effects of a life-changing injury can be hard to bear. Coping with substantial physical pain, limited mobility, financial stress, and more can feel isolating and hopeless. Compassionate support from friends and loved ones is an important aspect of recovery after a serious injury.
If your loved one suffered a traumatic injury, you may find yourself wanting to help but uncertain about what you can actually do to support them in their recovery. The good news is that there are many simple ways you can help your loved one look out for their physical and psychological well-being after an injury.
1. Help With Research
You can make things a lot easier for someone who has suffered a serious injury by helping them with any necessary paperwork and/or research into their care needs.
The medical system and insurance are complicated to navigate. You can help your loved one by looking into:
- How to file an insurance claim
- What their treatment options are and what they may cost
- Which types of auto insurance and health insurance they have that they can use to cover their medical expenses
- What paperwork they’ll need to complete as part of the claims process
2. Reassure Them With Emotional Support
The psychological and emotional toll of a traumatic injury can be just as challenging as the physical aftermath. It is important to provide emotional support to loved ones after a serious injury or shock after a car accident.
Here are a few tips for how to provide healthy support:
- Show interest in their general well-being.
- Remind them that they’re not alone.
- Consider what they may need and offer to help them with everyday household tasks if that’s what they want.
- Tell them that while you may not be able to fully understand what they’ve been through, you’re always available to listen to them.
- Keep in mind that recovering from a traumatic injury takes time, and don’t make them feel rushed when facing decisions or push them to “get over it.”
3. Listen to Them
For many people who’ve sustained a serious injury, just having someone to talk to and listen to their story can be a source of great comfort.
This is especially true for patients who have been in a hospital or are undergoing rehabilitation for a long period. If someone has been going through treatment for injuries for a number of months, they may be frustrated or impatient with the slow pace of progress and want someone to talk to about what they’re going through.
The most important thing to remember when it comes to talking to accident victims is to focus on their needs.
- Pay attention to what they’re saying and how they’re feeling.
- Watch their body language.
- Listen if they want to talk about the accident and the progress they’re making, but don’t force them if they don’t want to.
- Resist the urge to offer unsolicited advice.
- If the injured person seems uncomfortable with whatever you are talking about, find another topic of conversation.
4. Help Them Manage Their Doctor Appointments
Navigating the healthcare system can be a challenge even when we are healthy. Managing a calendar full of appointments after a serious injury can feel totally overwhelming. Being an advocate and second pair of ears for your loved one as they attend important follow-up medical appointments can be a lifesaver.
It can be helpful to offer your assistance with simple tasks, such as attending appointments with your loved one or writing down home care instructions from their care team.
Here are a few specific ways you can help someone who has suffered a serious injury navigate the medical system:
- Dealing With Insurance: Depending on the type of health insurance someone has, he or she may need approval before seeing certain medical specialists or undergoing certain procedures to ensure the cost is covered. To minimize the chance of any time-consuming bureaucratic mistakes, you can review your loved one’s health insurance policy to help them see the right doctors and get prior authorizations when needed. You can also help your loved one understand the limits of their insurance coverage and estimate what their out-of-pocket expenses may be so they can plan accordingly.
- Transportation to Appointments: A serious injury can leave someone unable to drive or use public transportation to get to their medical appointments. Driving your loved ones to the doctor’s office or the hospital will make their lives easier.
- Keeping Track of Medications: Depending on the nature and extent of their injuries, accident victims may be prescribed several medications at once, all with different schedules and dosages to keep track of. Coming up with a system to manage all these medications will help accident victims stay on course with their treatment plan and make sure the medications are taken as directed.
5. Build a Care Plan
The recovery process after a serious injury can be lengthy, costly, and a bit overwhelming. To give your family member or friend the best chance at a full recovery, help them write down a comprehensive treatment plan.
Include the names of their doctors and the various facilities where they’ll be receiving treatment, the schedule and dosage levels for any medications, the date and time of their upcoming medical appointments, an overall timeline for the recovery process, and so on.
Be as detailed as possible while acknowledging that plans can change depending on any number of factors.
6. Manage Stress
Recovering from an injury can be very stressful. However, caring for a loved one who is recovering can be very stressful, too. Feeling anxious, overwhelmed or even a little resentful is not uncommon amongst caregivers. That’s why it is important to find healthy ways to reduce your own stress.
While you are focusing on someone else’s needs, you can’t forget about your own. Your loved one will depend on your support. It is important to have the physical and emotional wherewithal that will be needed.
Many local and online resources are available to help support caregivers and help you navigate this difficult time.
7. Make Sure They Don’t Overdo It
Getting sufficient rest is an essential part of recovery from a serious injury, but it’s not as easy as it sounds. Some injured people get impatient and try to be too active too quickly. That can set back their recovery.
You can ease your loved one’s burdens by proactively helping them around their home. Taking care of the dishes, cooking, cleaning, and assisting them with bathing or getting dressed upon request can all be extremely helpful.
8. Help Your Loved One Adjust to Diet and Lifestyle Changes
Serious injuries often have far-reaching effects on a person’s life. In many cases, severely injured people are forced to limit their physical activity, which can have negative physical and psychological consequences.
You can help your loved one adjust to these changes and maintain their general well-being by working with them to develop a healthy eating and exercise plan. Monitoring an injured person’s caloric intake and making wholesome changes to their diet can help them avoid excessive weight gain, which can adversely affect their health.
Helping your loved one keep to a regular schedule of low-impact exercise based on recommendations from a physical rehabilitation specialist can reduce muscle loss, build strength, and improve overall mood.
9. Make Sure Your Loved One Keeps Up With Their Medications
Prescribed medications are an important part of recovery for many people with serious injuries. If a patient is supposed to take a number of medications at different intervals throughout the day, it may be difficult for the person to remember, organize, or order refills of the medications according to schedule.
You can help your loved one by assisting them with their prescriptions. This may include helping them organize pills into a pill reminder, applying topical treatments, and dispensing medications according to their doctor’s orders.
Before you try to help your loved one with their medications or treatment schedule, make sure you have discussed their care with a medical professional so you understand your loved one’s needs.
Mental Health Support for Injured Victims and Caregivers
Dealing with needing so much help as an injured victim or with excessive caregiving duties can lead to feelings of anxiety or depression. It’s important to be aware of the common signs of these conditions so you can seek mental health support for either yourself or your injured loved one when needed.
Some symptoms of depression following an accident may include:
- Loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed
- Changes in appetite and sleep habits
- Crying spells or sadness
- Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
- Irritability and anger
- Fatigue, lethargy, and lack of motivation
Anxiety after an accident injury can manifest as:
- Excessive worry or fear
- Restlessness and feeling on edge
- Panic attacks
- Obsessive thoughts
- Headaches, stomach issues, and other physical symptoms
If you recognize any of these signs in yourself or a loved one, it’s important to reach out to mental health support providers. Many effective treatments and coping strategies exist, including therapy, meditation, support groups, medication, and lifestyle changes. Don’t assume symptoms will just go away.
Need a Case Evaluation? Contact a Serious Injury Lawyer Today
If you have questions about how you or a loved one can move forward following a devastating accident, contact the compassionate legal team at Joye Law Firm. We’ll take the time to understand your needs and review your legal options to regain control of your life. Our attorneys’ goal is to make a positive difference in the lives of the people who turn to us for help. Whether that involves pursuing an injury claim on your behalf or simply answering your questions and providing some guidance at no charge, we’re ready to assist.
Our attorneys have been serving victims of serious injuries for more than 50 years. We are deeply familiar with South Carolina law, and our attorneys will pursue every possible avenue to help you recover every dollar you’re owed after an accident caused by someone else’s negligence.
To discuss whether your injuries entitle you to pursue a personal injury claim, speak with a knowledgeable and compassionate lawyer at Joye Law Firm. Contact us online for a free consultation.
Originally published June 2, 2021. Updated February 14, 2024.