Accidents can happen when we least expect them, and when they do, they often have a profound impact on the person involved and those closest to them.

As your loved one recovers — whether they are out of action temporarily, facing a lengthy rehabilitation, or adapting to a permanent injury or disability they will never fully recover from — your support and assistance can make a massive difference.

Here, McAllen personal injury lawyer Dr. Louis Patino explains why families are well-placed to support loved ones injured in accidents.

But every individual, accident, and injury is unique, so the kind of assistance most helpful for your loved one will vary.

Dr. Patino provides several practical tips for assisting a loved one hurt in an accident and enabling independence when they have limited mobility.

Small Gestures Go a Long Way

Accidents often cause injury, whether a slip and fall on the street, being struck by an object at work, or a sideswipe accident on the road. Injuries can be minor — a few bumps and bruises or discomfort — or severe, such as a brain or spinal cord injury. The level of physical support your loved one might need depends on the nature of their injury.

Individuals with broken bones, limited mobility, or who cannot drive may need assistance with daily tasks like preparing meals, getting dressed, and taking the kids to school.

What might seem like a small gesture can make a substantial difference to your loved one’s recovery and overall well-being. For example, shopping for groceries or doing the laundry can take off the pressure by allowing your loved one to rest rather than stress about how they will tackle an ever-growing to-do list. Similarly, vacuuming or dusting the home can create a clean, inviting, and homely space that aids recovery.

If your loved one has sustained severe physical injuries, they might value your help getting in and out of bed and navigating stairs. Depending on their injury and doctor’s advice, you may need to make temporary arrangements to make life easier for them, such as converting a downstairs room into a bedroom so they do not have to climb or improving access to the bathroom.

Enabling Independence

Seeing a loved one in pain and struggling to complete basic tasks can be devastating, but they likely feel just as helpless. Your first instinct might be to step in to do it for them, but this can take away what little independence your loved one has. Instead of taking over or assuming they want your help, consider letting them try or seek ways to adapt activities so they can contribute.

For example, if your loved one loves to cook but cannot stand because of their injury, consider DIY kitchen adaptations like setting up a table or low-level workspace so they can prepare vegetables while sitting.

If they want to browse the internet but cannot grip a mouse or type on a keyboard for extended periods, consider enabling accessibility features so they can dictate to their PC or laptop instead of relying on others to click and type for them.

Voiceover features also allow individuals to independently listen to audiobooks or articles if they have suffered sight loss or cannot stare at screens for extended periods, such as after a brain injury or for those with chronic headaches.

You could also invest in bedroom and bathroom mobility aids for your loved one. This doesn’t mean you don’t want to help — they will likely appreciate the gesture. Relying on someone else for personal tasks like bathing can feel demoralizing, even though they’d be the first to help you in the reverse scenario. Aids such as bath boards, grab rails, or wall-mounted shower seats can support independence if your loved one cannot climb in and out of the bath unaided, while button hooks, zip pullers, and shoe horns can assist with dressing for those who can only use one arm or cannot bend to put on shoes. If your loved one is experiencing specific spinal issues that require expert attention, consider consulting a spine specialist who can provide tailored advice and treatment options.

Helping a loved one through recovery or rehabilitation requires patience, understanding, and adaptability. Appreciating the unique impact of your loved one’s injuries will inform how you tailor your care. Achieving the right balance is tough, but it is possible to help ease the physical burden without taking away their autonomy and dignity.