Stress Resilience: For caregivers after brain injury

Stress Resilience: For caregivers after brain injury

Janet Cromer, RN, MA, LMHC
For caregivers of survivors with brain injury, the ability to reduce and manage stress is challenging, but skills can be learned to increase resiliency. Caregivers can run the risk of burnout or compassion fatigue and compromise their own health and well-being. This tip card helps family caregivers understand the harmful effects of stress and gives strategies to create a resilience plan.
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Full Description

This tip card defines stress as a psychological and physical reaction to positive or negative circumstances. Resiliency is the ability to cope with simultaneous disruptive changes. To avoid stress while caring for a survivor of a brain injury, caregivers must adapt to these changes while learning to move forward in new ways and maintain good health under pressure. Being a family caregiver can be a stressful job, but there are tips and strategies to enhance resilience. Learning to recognize the stressors of long-term caregiving can help caregivers stay healthy and avoid burnout.
Pages 8
Year 2012


Janet Cromer, RN, MA, LMHC

Ms Cromer’s career spans 35 years as a medical and psychiatric registered nurse, 23 years as a licensed psychotherapist, and 7 years as an award-winning healthcare writer, most recently from the American Medical Writers Association New England Chapter. She had held clinical and administrative positions in hospitals and community mental health programs and managed a successful private psychotherapy practice. As a Registered Art Therapist with a Master’s Degree in Expressive Therapies from Lesley University, she incorporated art, writing, drama, and movement into her treatment with people dealing with medical illness, mental illness, and brain injury. She has long been interested in the medical humanities as a way to improve patient care and foster humane relationships among professionals, patients, and families.

Since 1998, Ms Cromer has contributed her professional expertise to the brain injury and family caregiver communities as an award winning writer, support group facilitator, speaker, advisory board member, and advocate for family caregivers and survivors. Her viewpoint encompasses a broad understanding of healthcare issues and personal experience as a family caregiver for her husband who faced the challenges of brain injury, dementia, and Parkinson’s disease. Professor Cromer Learns to Read: A Couple’s New Life after Brain Injury is the recipient of a 2010 Solimene Award for Excellence in Medical Communication and the Neal Duane Award for Distinction from the American Medical Writers Association-NE Chapter.


The Caregiver's Journey

What is Stress?

The stress response

What is Stress Resilience?

Tips for core strategies…

Caregiving Across Stages

The crisis stage


Tips for stress resilience…


The multiple adjustments stage


Tips for stress resilience…


The new normal stage


Tips for stress resilience… 

The stage of aging with brain injury


Tips for stress resilience…




Sample excerpt. Preview only – please do not copy

What is Stress?

Stress is a normal psychological and physical reaction to positive or negative situations in your life, such as a new job or the illness of a loved one. Stress itself isn't abnormal or bad. What's important is how you deal with stress.

Stress basics

  • The right amount of stress can give you energy and purpose.
  • Too much stress can be harmful to your health, your mood, and your relationships.
  • Stress affects the body, mind, and behavior.
  • Research has shown that being a family caregiver can be an extremely stressful job. Caregivers report more chronic diseases than non-caregivers.
  • Protect yourself by making stress resilience skills part of your daily routine.
  • Our perceptions and self-talk determine what we find stressful. Even if we can't take away the stressor, we can change how we perceive it and reduce the stress level.

What is Stress Resilience?

Resiliency has been defined as the ability to cope well with high levels of ongoing, disruptive change. Resiliency allows us to bounce back from setbacks, and sustain good health under pressure.

It also helps us change to a new way of living or working when the old way is no longer possible. Caring for a loved one with a brain injury often requires us to adapt to changes and learn new ways of moving ahead in life.

Stress resilience means that you can deliberately direct your body to shift from a stress response to a more relaxed and focused state. This can be a life-enhancing skill for caregivers.

Several techniques and strategies have been proven to boost resilience.

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