The holidays are the time of excitement, family gatherings and exchanging memorable gifts. But if you’re caring for a loved one who suffered a stroke, it can also be a time of increased stress in the household. The holiday season can be a lonely time for stroke survivors and can bring back memories of an active life.
However, with some planning and considerations, the holidays can still be a great source of pleasure, for you and the stroke survivor. Here are a few holiday engagement ideas that can be lots of fun for stroke survivors even if they’re not in the best physical abilities to celebrate.
1. Making Holiday plans together
Involve your patient in your plans for festivities. For example, asking someone his opinion on the menu for Christmas dinner may seem trivial to you, but it could mean the world to the stroke survivor who may be feeling a bit down or physically challenged. Find activities in which he is easily able to participate like window shopping at the mall during an off-peak time.
2. Creating a festive atmosphere
If the person you’re caregiving for has friends visiting him often, bring some holiday cheer to his room. A simple way to liven up the stroke survivor’s drab room is by placing photos and holiday cards on the window ledge or taping them up on the wall. Ask him to take part by telling (or pointing out if speech is an issue after stroke) you what he likes the most among holiday cards, photos, garlands, hand-drawn pictures and flowers.
3. Indulging in fun activities, together
Build on past traditions and focus on activities that are meaningful to the stroke survivor. The activities we are suggesting below are low-key and can be done at the person’s pace. If the stroke survivor suffered cognitive deficits such as Dementia, you may want to modify activities to avoid confusing him.
- Gather around the stereo to listen to the stroke survivor’s favorite tunes.
- Sing holiday songs together (if the person’s speech is not impaired by stroke).
- Have a movie night with popcorn, extra pillows, and warm blankets to cuddle under.
4. Reminiscing happy times
You can bring comfort and joy to the stroke survivor by sharing with them your experiences as a caregiver. Whether it’s singing or recalling funny stories, share your holiday traditions with him.
For many elderly survivors, there are a lot of things to look forward to when the holiday season begins. Reminiscing about days gone are one of them. If speaking clearly is not one of the challenges after stroke, ask the person to share his happy Christmassy experiences.
5. Creating memories that last
You can also record video holiday greetings from family members or friends (if they are unable to visit the stroke survivor) that you can play for the person during the Christmas celebration. It will surely brighten his day and lift his spirit, knowing that so many people are thinking of him and taking out time to greet him during the Christmas season.
6. Having a restful, yet delightful Christmas
Ask his doctor if it’s okay to bring some home-cooked pies for the stroke survivor so that he can partake in your Christmas meal as well. Try celebrating over a lunch or brunch, rather than an evening meal. For some stroke survivors with Dementia, afternoons and evenings can be a very restless period which will only be exacerbated if there are many people around.
This Blog is contributed by Dr. Deepak Kr. Nain. He is a certified therapist who specializes in the field of rehabilitation. Deepak possesses a clinical expertise in prescribing the best solutions to help people with neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, Stroke, Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS).