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Information for carers

This page is for people caring for someone after a subarachnoid haemorrhage (SAH) and their family members.

Because a subarachnoid haemorrhage (SAH) happens suddenly, it comes as a great shock. Sometimes disabilities are present following SAH which may become more permanent.

These changes can take some coming to terms with as a family, and can have an impact on everyone. You may need extra support at this time.

Having a brain injury can deprive someone of the ability make a decision about their daily life. It can also deprive someone of the insight they require to see a need for a change in the way they behave. Often their behaviour may be seen as challenging by those who care for that individual.

The changes seen might be subtle and the cause for certain behaviours can often be overlooked.

Behaviour patterns

Try to understand the behaviour patterns in the context of the environment and the person. You can use charts and diaries which will help you to identify:

  • Preceding triggers
  • Unmet needs
  • Communication difficulties
  • Memory problems
  • Pain
  • Fatigue

Feeling vulnerable at home

People are affected by brain injury in different ways, some find it hard to make decisions and become impulsive or hasty; some decisions such as what toothpaste to buy becomes almost impossible, whereas others become almost paralysed by having to choose, or come to a conclusion.

Advice for people after SAH

Attention and concentration

Maintaining a focus on the task at hand is extremely complex. This can have added complications such as frontal lobe damage reducing your inhibitions and making it harder to control your emotions or plan for specific parts of your life.

Decrease the distractions - for example, work in a quiet room or turn off background noise.

Focus on one task and one train of thought at a time.

Begin practising attention skills on simple yet practical activities (such as reading a paragraph or adding numbers): slowly build up the length of time you spend on this task.

Once you have increased your tolerance for the first three points, gradually make the tasks harder (read a short story in one sitting, or try to work in a noisier environment).

Make sure that this is graded so that you do not overload yourself too quickly. Take breaks when you get tired: this is especially important if you have fatigue or seizures as a result of your injury.

Advice for friends and family

It can be difficult for friends and family to understand what has happened to someone who has had an SAH. They might look fine physically, but it can take a long time to get back to 'norma'.

Often, friends and family find it hard to know what to say. They do not know whether to ask someone if they are OK, or to behave as if nothing has changed.

People who have had an SAH can find it difficult to talk to about the problems they are experiencing and might feel isolated as a result.

  • Keep a routine
  • Try not to take remarks personally
  • Try to keep calm at all times
  • Try not to have too many visitors


OUH Carers Adviser

Tel: 01235 424715

Mobile: 07827 235447


Carers Oxfordshire

Carers Oxfordshire

Helpline: 0345 050 7666

Carers UK

Carers UK

Last reviewed:09 January 2024