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Stroke Smart Magazine

November/December 2008

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Gifts that Matter
10 Helpful Gift Ideas

By Kathleen Miller and Christy Bailey

At this time of year, friends, family, and neighbors get the holiday spirit and want to help out and give thoughtful gifts. What do you tell them? Start by explaining how small gestures can be priceless. And then be prepared to offer specific ideas for gifts that will make life easier and more enjoyable for you and the stroke survivor in your care. Can’t think of anything off hand? These 10 ideas just may fit needs you didn’t even know you had.

1. A meal and a conversation. Getting out and about can be challenging, and tiring, for both you and the stroke survivor. But not getting out can lead to a sense of isolation. So when asked what people can give you this holiday, tell them you’d really enjoy their company and perhaps a home cooked meal. Fresh meals prepared and cooked in your home are even better. The aroma is free and the sensory experience is great for restoring appetite in both you and the stroke survivor. When people prepare fresh meals in your home instead of their own, you and your loved one get the benefit of talking, laughing, and maybe even helping during the cooking process.

2. A set schedule for a weekly call. Knowing that someone will be phoning at a set time allows you to plan your schedule around calls and gives everyone something to look forward to.

3. Help with the chores. Grocery shopping, trips to library, picking up prescriptions, climbing up on ladders to change a light bulb, cleaning the fridge these tasks take up valuable energy and time or don’t get done. A donation of chore time can be invaluable.

4. A stockpile of basics. Ask people to provide a year’s supply of paper products, cleaning supplies, and other bulk items.

5. Home organization. Have a highly organized neighbor or visiting niece reorganize closets and shelves in your home to make things easier for the stroke survivor to reach and use making both of your lives better.

6. A well-organized coupon collection. Once the rehabilitation begins, who has time to cut coupons? Having someone else collect coupons and stick them in an organizer can drastically reduce household expenses and allows you and the survivor to focus on what’s most important: recovery.

7. A festive home without all the work. Invite friends and family to come over and decorate the house for the holidays. Familiar sights and scents of holiday cheer, from the soft lights of burning candles to the scent of fresh pine, can do wonders to lift moods and restore a sense of normalcy to your holiday experience.

8. Grocery delivery. Out of town family members can call the local grocery store and arrange for favorite foods to be delivered directly to the home a gift that helps you and the survivor.

9. Three-month trial subscription to NetFlix. This is easy entertainment for the stroke survivor and caregiver. What’s better than your favorite holiday movies showing up in the mailbox for you to watch at your convenience?

10. Hand-written gratitude letters. Encourage loved ones to write a brief note to the stroke survivor saying what they admire most about him or her, or how grateful they are for something the survivor has done for them, or even sharing a favorite memory. This gives the survivor a necessary boost in mood and all you have to do is share the joy.


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National Stroke Association’s mission is to reduce the incidence and impact of stroke by developing compelling education and programs focused on prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and support for all impacted by stroke.

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