Beating boredom

Hi all. Last December my Dad suffered a severe traumatic brain injury. 10 months down the line he is still in hospital but going from strength to strength.

We are at the stage now where he is starting to become bored, especially now the weather has turned and going for a walk is rarely an option. We are finding it difficult to think of things to do with him as he is still facing several challenges that make even simple tasks difficult. He has some difficulty with his vision (possibly double vision) so doesn't like to watch TV for long and his hand eye coordination isn't great, he cant use his right arm so many tasks are a challenge to do one handed, and he is still struggling a lot with fatigue. We're just looking for simple things to occupy him when he's alone and even when we're visiting. He has a simple mobile and he is able to call us on it whenever he needs so we know he is up to working things like that.

Any suggestions would be great, thanks!

10 Replies

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  • Hi Laurie. Have you thought of talking books ? If your dad can operate a tablet or smartphone (or one could be set up for him) there are hundreds of books to choose from ; here's a link :- openculture.com/freeaudiobooks

    I'd suggest crosswords and jigsaws but if his movement is restricted they could be too fiddly for him right now.

    Good to hear you're looking for stimulus for your dad ; it'll really help with his rehab !

    Best wishes, Cat x

  • thats a great idea cat, especially when hes feeling fatigued he can just sit back and listen.

    another idea, and its something i do, is mindfulness

  • I found having the tablet to access radio/brain training apps/this forum etc invaluable. It also allows viewing of you tube and other media/listening to music. When you can't read books or watch tv - it's a long day. Watching videos on an iPad is much less irritating to my eyes, I'm sure there's probably a medical reason to do with light emmisons? I can't watch tv" it's too painful - but I can look at short videos on the iPad no problem. Jigsaws are good but if he has double vision that might be too difficult? Puzzle books are also great but it might require assistance. Jenga / simple board games? Art materials? Lego (don't knock it till you try it :) ) Good luck, and no doubt others will add more ideas shortly.

  • What is good and isn't' promoted much, is that all the libraries in England and Wales have subscribed to a free digital magazines. Your library website will have a link to something like rbdigital.com/wales/service...

    Magazines can be downloaded to a tablet / pc and they don't have an expiry date.

    Whilst your dad probably won't want to read all the articles, going through the magazines will keep his mind active and actually using a tablet computer will improve his motor skills.

    In the run up to Christmas there are some good tablet computers around £80. MA lot of hospitals have free Wifi and with this he can get access to things like BBC iPlayer and watch things when he is able. If he gets tired he can pause it and resume when he is able.

    It would be a good thing for him to start to learn to use a tablet now as he will need things to help his memory when he comes out.

    Laurie, I don't know how much experience or background reading you have done so far but your dad is on the start of a very long and difficult journey. In our bizarre world most of us will probably agree that the easiest part was when we were injured and had all the NHS support around us. The difficult part happens when we go out through the hospital doors, always unprepared for the future and quite often with no support.

    So make as much use of this forum as you want to learn as much as you can

  • Hi,

    Short reply for now...sorry not i n best place myself right now but....

    Audio books great idea (library let me have for free)

    Colouring books for adults (no one mentioned this to me)

    Any magazines about any hobby he has ? bikes/cars/gardens whatever

    Argos catalogue ? post it notes uaeful for marking mag pages to come back to

    Any other repetetive craft thingy that can be picked up and put down and where it can't be done "wrong"

    I wouldn't have been able to use computer/tablet for ages myself.

    Good luck☺

  • How is your dad with verbal skills?

    Starting with the simple puzzles on cereal packets and allowing him to practice with his left hand might help or child apps for puzzles.

    It sounds like your dad is quite motivated but lacking direction. Reassure him that he is making progress and if you can give him some choices of what he would like to improve.

    Is he resting when he is fatigued? That is as important as stretching yourself.

    I love the idea of Lego but it may be too fiddly. You could try the bigger duplo blocks.

    Love n hugs

    Xoxo

  • Hi all, thank you for all these great ideas! I will definitely give them all a go, it's worth trying anything.

    I didn't realise you can get tablets so cheap these days. I've just been looking at an Amazon tablet for kids with simplified controls and a big sturdy case so it will be protected if he drops it. I think it could be really useful with headphones for him listening to music or audio books.

    I should add, Dad is unable to get in and out of bed by himself (although that hasn't stopped him trying). He is often very reluctant to get out of bed as he says he's tired but we think there's also an element of the bed being a bit of a comfort/safe zone. We always have to come up with reasons for him to stay in a chair and its a constant battle. One of the problems is that he doesn't like the lounge or the dining room at the rehab centre. It upsets him to see the other patients and he finds the background noise too much - he struggles to focus on what you're saying, so he is reluctant to leave his room unless it is to go outside.

    He's doing great with his speech. He struggles with some sounds more than others and does need to repeat himself a lot. But considering he didn't emerge from a disorder of consciousness for 4 months after the accident, we're extremely pleased that he is at this stage and able to engage with us so much.

    He will usually rest when he is tired and he's not afraid to tell us to leave if he's too tired! But fatigue is definitely improving. A few months ago he would fall asleep after half an hour but these days we usually have two hours or more before he needs to rest.

  • i cannot tolerate noisy environments, and use ear plugs to soft the noise. I wonder if this would help him? Vision and auditory overload is very common in BI. I do struggle to concentrate if chatting to a person with background noise, It is almost like I am drawn to other people's conversation/noise.

    I cannot really add any advice others have already said

    Yes, the bed I found the bed a comfort, rather than sitting in the chair, but physio did say laying in bed would weaken my muscles even more, and get up and sitting in a chair was a great effort, they encourage by saying moving, gives oxygen to the brain, and trying to move what I could of my body (I have left sided weakness). But I totally get when you say it is a battle to give your dad a reason to sit in the chair.

    it must be great to see your dad improving in terms of his speech and fatigue, and I am sure your support and encouragement has no doubt helped his recovery.

    Hospital provides the support and care brain injury people need, but we have often talked on the forum of the lack of after care post discharge, and often left to our own devices, searching for support ourselves. My partner pushed me out of the hospital and said to whoever, 'is there any thing I can do to help my partner'. The nurse apparently replied 'no, just go home and rest'. We did not know what a long journey we had ahead of us. I wished somebody had advised us to contact Headway, pre-discharge, and without painting a too bleak picture physio, occupational therapy and neuropsychology input, are in short supply. Perhaps this is the time before discharge to search for any help you can.. Unfortunately, we have to search ourselves for aftercare. Hope this helps

  • Might be worth asking the same questions to community neuro rehab team and headway in advance ? they had many ideas that I wish I'd known about earlier....☺ but now can't remember !!

  • I do Sudoku puzzles - especially the very difficult ones! PaulsPages is a great website and publishes new puzzles each day in four categories. You do them online, can annotate and enlarge them to suit. There is a one-off subscription of £3 which I would gladly pay per month! It keeps my mind sharp - though some days I cannot do them and some days I can so it is also a kind of gauge! See paulspages.co.uk/

    Good luck!