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Simple tips if you are getting ready for that special occasion

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.

  1. Arrive early, closer parking and eliminate crowds when possible
  2. Greet those you are attending for
  3. Enjoy the moments before utterly chaos
  4. Use earplugs to help with noise level
  5. Find  a place to sit close to the exit where you can identify your location and not get lost
  6. Read the brochure ahead of time so you know what to expect
  7. If meeting at a restaurant:  Menu items can be complicated
  8. 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.
  9. Sit on the end seats to have easy access if you need to leave
  10. 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.
  11. Wear flat shoes, your balance is off you can easily fall.  Avoid falls.
  12. 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.
    1. Leave early to avoid crowds or
    2. Stay seated till the crowd has left

Adam Charette