Home Management and Brain Injury
Following a brain injury, a person may lose the ability to care for personal needs at home and in the community. This results in some degree of dependency. Therapy provides an opportunity to practice skills needed for living in the home and community.
Home management is the ability to complete meal planning and preparation, light and heavy housecleaning, and indoor and outdoor maintenance. These activities involve cognitive, physical, visual and perceptual skills. During rehabilitation, safety and judgment are emphasized because of the use of potentially dangerous objects such as heat source (e.g. stove top, microwave, oven, toaster), heavy items, electrical appliances/tools and sharp items.
Previous home management skills are determined after talking with the patient and the family. An assessment of the current level of ability is also completed. Based on these findings, a program is planned to increase the person’s independence. In cases where childcare is part of the person’s homemaking responsibilities, an individual program is developed to meet specific needs.
Visual, perceptual, cognitive, physical, and vestibular problems can make a person particularly unsafe in the kitchen and/or when caring for children and pets. Problems can include:
- Inability to locate items on shelves
- Trouble knowing which knob to use to turn stove burners on and off
- Difficulty finding items in the refrigerator and utensils in a drawer
- Trouble reading directions or following recipes
- Running into furniture when vacuuming
- Mishandling boiling water when attempting to pour it
- Using sharp utensils in an unsafe manner
- Accidentally burning self when reaching into a hot oven
- Difficulty with plugging and unplugging electrical appliances or turning switches on/off
- Becoming dizzy when bending over to pick up objects or retrieving objects from lower cupboards
- Doing tasks too quickly and being unaware of safety hazards
- Trouble safely caring for others such as children, spouses, older parents, and pets
- Problems with money management and paying bills
- Inability to safely do laundry and perform housekeeping activities
Before working on independent living skills, it may be necessary to increase physical abilities such as strength and coordination; cognitive abilities, including attention span and memory; or visual/perceptual abilities as in attention to detail to ensure success.
Not all people achieve total independence. Family members receive training in proper methods of supervising or assisting the brain injured person so tasks can be performed safely and efficiently.