Attending all the family gatherings and events this time of year can be extremely difficult for those with injuries, chronic illnesses, and brain injuries or dysfunction. Here are a few tips that are helpful to get through these events and yet enjoy the people who are present. It exhausts those dealing with the above-mentioned issues, so planning and organization is the key.
These skills may be extremely difficult or impossible to manage early after injury so hopefully someone will help you with these. Things that seem so simple to the average person, is not to those dealing with these medical issues.
This key will help not only the person involved, but the loved-ones who surround this individual on a regular basis. Help these people make the most out of life and help yourself. Not everyone has the ability to figure out what works best for them.
Here is a basic guideline that may be helpful. Every day is a gift and for these challenged individuals they know how precious their energy and time are to them. They also do not deliberately make others feel uncomfortable. Everyone wants to enjoy other people and events.
Here are a few ideas to help your loved one and yourself attend events. It’s all about thinking ahead and planning. Rushing is the last thing you want to do. Disorganization also increases anxiety and overwhelming feelings for all involved.
Two weeks ahead of time
- Buy or make a special card
- Buy or make a special gift
- Wrap the gift
- Put in the car so you won’t forget
One week ahead of time
- Select & set out the attire you plan on wearing
- Plan to wear layers of clothing. It’s easier to take off and put on to meet the temperature of the environment.
- Wear flat non-skid bottom shoes, it’s best to keep your balance than fall. And you don’t want to be slipping either.
- Make a grocery list if you are baking or buying for the party
- Purchase what you need to take for your food item at least 2 days ahead of the event (unless someone else is picking it up for you)
- Is this an outside event? Do you have a special outdoor collapsible chair that is your favorite and most comfortable? Will you need a light weight blanket or covering? A cushion for a bench seat? A foldable seat with a back for bench seats?
- Take a pen, paper, or something that could help distract you if you feel overwhelmed and cannot leave because you are with other family members.
- Find the quiet spot around to avoid excessive stimuli.
- Engage in conversation when you can. Remove yourself when you feel you can’t handle the situation any longer.
- Say nothing…instead of outbursts of how you really feel. It might save a relationship or two…at least for the meantime.
One Day Ahead
- Personal Hygiene-polish nails, shave, all aspects of personal hygiene that expends energy that you can’t do on the same day of event
- Bake or make whatever food items you are taking to the party. Never do this on the day of the party. It will exhaust you and you won’t have energy to either attend or enjoy others.
Day of Special occasion or event
This is for the best outcome. It’s the ideal, but you might find it’s the only option you have to make it to an event and leave without incident.
- Take a long bath or shower and relax…you need to relax all your muscles.
- Rest until attending…practice deep breathing, take a healthy walk, do simple exercises to keep yourself healthy.
- Do not write…writing can take a toll and deplete brain energy so hold off till the next day!
- Do not text message…this can get you involved in other emotional issues, put that off until the next day.
- Do not take telephone calls…it’s not time to take in other issues or solve other problems.
- Do not listen to music…it can also drain your emotional energy, unless you are listening to soft and relaxing music. The only exception is soft and relaxing music.
- Do not watch television…it drains your emotional energy!
- Do not waste your energy on anything…conserve your energy!
- Do nothing…Absolutely nothing!
- Just practice relaxing, deep breathing, yoga, Pilates, exercise, and praying
- Total quiet time until leaving for event (even if event is in evening)
- Leave early to attend the event so you don’t feel rushed
- Find a place to sit before the crowd arrives
- Get out your earplugs to drown out some of the noise
- If you are annoyed by others at the event, move away and find a better seating arrangement
- Get familiar with the environment: know where the restrooms are located; know where the trash cans are located; know where the food is at; remember where you parked.
Looking for decreased stimuli and still attend the commencements, graduation parties, weddings and all those events that require your attendance? Overwhelming information floods the brains and minds of traumatic brain injured survivors. With these overwhelming feelings brings great discord to those who you are surrounded with and love you the most.
- Arrive early, closer parking and eliminate crowds when possible
- Greet those you are attending for
- Enjoy the moments before utterly chaos
- Use earplugs to help with noise level
- Find a place to sit close to the exit where you can identify your location and not get lost
- Read the brochure ahead of time so you know what to expect
- If meeting at a restaurant: Menu items can be complicated
- Pick an item your friend, sister, etc are getting. Don’t try to pick off a very complicated menu such as in a restaurant. Think about what you want to eat before you arrive to a restaurant.
- Sit on the end seats to have easy access if you need to leave
- Use a cane or whatever so you can visibly be seen, instead of shoved in crowds. When people see assistive devices they rarely push, and will walk around you. Prevent injuries at all cost.
- Wear flat shoes, your balance is off you can easily fall. Avoid falls.
- Dress in attire that you are comfortable. Wear layers so you can easily take off a jacket or sweater to be cooler, or put back on to be warmer.
- Leave early to avoid crowds or
- Stay seated till the crowd has left
If it’s a bad day for you, don’t make excuses just STAY HOME! You can’t please everyone, but you need to take care of yourself.
- Simple Tips to Manage Fatigue with Brain Injury, Memory Problems, and Chronic Illness to Self Rehabilitate (braininjuryselfrehabilitation.com)
- Simple tips to help deal with memory problems (braininjuryselfrehabilitation.com)
- Laughter as brain injury medicine – Permanent Hairdo? (braininjuryselfrehabilitation.com)
May 18, 2012 at 9:55 am
Excellent, helpful. Edie, you can help TBI sufferers and others too. I just found this so helpful myself, in approaching life as a senior.
brain injury self rehabilitation (BISR)
May 18, 2012 at 10:59 am
Sometimes things seem so simple when one has been compensating for so many years. But, I’m hoping as simplistic as this is, others can find it helpful. I’m finding my husband having great difficulty with adapting to life changes as a senior, and I’m moving right along since my brain has been retrained. So…that’s a benefit for me! When everyone I know is walking aimlessly around a parking lot or anywhere, I’ll be the one who knows the way!LOL
May 18, 2012 at 10:19 pm
Edie, this is kind of a sweet benefit of a difficult time. You’ll be steps ahead of us!!
May 20, 2012 at 6:48 pm
Your detailed suggestions about getting ready for/attending an event are wonderful ~ especially from the standpoint of us who don’t have TBI but might invite a friend/family member with it! WE need to be more sensitive to their needs and aware of them. Also…. I know soft music helps people relax, but contemporary Christian music pumps my adrenalin, such as the songs played on KLOVE Christian radio…so if people with TBI need a energy boost, would that help?
brain injury self rehabilitation (BISR)
May 21, 2012 at 1:38 pm
Thank you for your comment. I think music can be powerful for energy and healing. Every one recovers differently. Any sort of stimuli can drain the mental abilities and become exhaustive. I think it’s very individualized. In my situation I do not ride or drive in a car with music, and I’m just getting to play very small amounts weekly…not even daily and that’s two decades later. But I also believe it depends on how one is using their brain. I think if they keep trying to learn, the music might be more limited because it also causes distractions and mental fatigue.
May 22, 2012 at 10:55 am
Thank you for what you do best, educating those of us who don’t have TBI. I never realized music could cause mental fatigue, but it makes sense.
Step On a Crack
May 27, 2012 at 2:23 am
OK I love this post and all the suggestions. I am getting totally overwhelmed with the kids graduation and pre high school stuff. SO many events and transitions and TOO much to do.
I read this several times and will take your advice on much of this. I may bow out of a potluck tomorrow and just be alone in a quiet house. I know I need it, I also don’t want to miss the transitions and the goodbyes.
I have a serious question for you: I am looking at ‘what is next?’ now that the kid is getting older. I am looking forward to returning to the work force. I have been blessed to be able to stay home with him AND I miss grown up work. some one close to me said to me recently, “you will never be self sufficient again.” I was floored. It was perhaps the meanest thing anyone has ever said to me. I KNOW my limitations I GET it and I want to return to work. I was a community organizer for special interest groups on the left and specialized in electoral politics. I KNOW I am not going back to that: the stress is insane. What can I do? What DO people with a TBI do for money?
I am up late so upset about this; I know there is some truth in the mean statement. But it is not all true is it?
What do you know about this? Any ideas? I know I need to NOT multitask, work insane hours, be in a noisy place, that DOES cut out a lot of my options given my skill set.
I am so sad and frustrated right now and I came here because YOU are wise and know only to well what this is like.
Thank you! Jen
brain injury self rehabilitation (BISR)
May 27, 2012 at 11:09 pm
Jen, First Do not listen to any put-down or demeaning comments. I know you heard the negative comments and will continue to simply because people are rude, judgement and ignorant lacking education in specific areas! Hearing comments and listening to it is two different things. Don’t play it over in your mind. You heard it, but don’t listen to it! Does that make any sense? Consider the source, it’s their problem for failing to understand and communicate effectively. However, I do know how hurtful these comments are and it just crushes ones confidence…but only briefly and TEMPORARILY! Is this someone you sincerely care about and helps you on a daily basis? If not, that person absolutely does not know you or what you deal with.
You are an over-achieving and type-A personality and there is a place in the workforce for you. You’ve come a long way with your experiences and have a great deal to offer! Remember to take a little time for yourself after your son’s graduation. Congratulations Mom as your son Graduates! He got there because of you! That’s the hardest job in the world, so any other career path you choose will be a breeze providing you accommodate for your limitations.
I need time to think through some ideas, but wanted to reply for now. I did include a few thoughts, but you don’t need to make up your mind today! Just know there is plenty for you to remain independent, and you are employable. I’m thinking that returning to work part-time off-shifts where stimuli is less when that is possible would be a route to begin thinking of. What I would suggest for TBI survivors and others with challenges of any sort would be things such as working at Hospice Centers, Home Health, Community Service areas, etc.
I definitely would not mention any limitation to any employers, simply because of discrimination…it happens even with the American Disability Act (ADA). They do not hire. Even after being hired do not disclose any personal information EVER, because it will be held against you as though you’ve done something wrong…and as unfair as that is it happens all the time. And it happened to me! This is something very common in nursing, and in nursing schools.
What most TBI survivors and others with similar conditions have in common that the general population doesn’t is this: You have learned to compensate for many different things and that is a plus in today’s society! Most people just go about their lives without such mishap, but the slightest things will throw them off course and they have a catastrophic reaction for simple things. Now survivors are strong in so many ways … and assets to every company that hires these individuals! Make a plan ahead of time how you would handle certain crisis in the workplace. I will write a post on this in the future. If you think it through ahead of time and have a plan and rehearse it (and don’t forget it!lol)…you will always be successful!
I’m concerned about how you are doing. Let me know. You are not alone, and that is why I am here. Step aside and take care of Jen! Hope this helps a little. Stay Safe.