As with spinal cord injuries and acquired brain injuries, caregivers of burned individuals experience increased stress when the loved one is released from the hospital.
Unlike spinal cord injuries or acquired brain injuries, however, burn survivors must usually monitor their ambient environment. And it is important to maintain good skin hygiene, which is often the responsibility of the primary caregiver.
Skin hygiene may require the caregiver to learn the techniques for wound dressing, irrigation, and watching for any sign of infection. The caregiver must also monitor the burn survivor's exposure to heat or sunlight. It may become a normal part of your routine to carry an umbrella, hat, or lightweight jacket to limit sun exposure.
Along with monitoring the skin of the burn victim, you must psychologically adjust to the burn. If the burn caused disfigurement, you may grieve the loss of your loved one's pre- injury image. Though it is important to share your thoughts about the burn, the discussion should be with a counselor or support group, not with the individual who sustained the burn. They will need you to be composed when they talk about their fear and anxiety about their burn.
Feelings of guilt are another common caregiver response to burns. In a 1998 study, mothers of children with burns were found to have more post traumatic stress symptoms, mixed with guilt feelings, than the children with the burns.
Especially in the case of children, the family may understand the social implications of the burn better than the victim. Family members often anticipate how the public will react to the child, and experience feelings of dread.
Parents may be very concerned about how others perceive their child. Will they be ridiculed or made fun of? If this occurs, it is your responsibility to educate those who are staring, asking questions, or making cruel remarks. Try to identify the positive things your child can do.
While these concerns are a natural reaction to caring for a child with a burn, it is equally important to imbue the child with a sense of self-esteem and self-worth, without regard to how the burn may have impacted their physical appearance.