E V E R Y D A Y SURVIVAL | Connecting You to Helpful Ideas
fter a stroke, routine activities can be a
challenge. Tasks you’ve done routinely —
getting dressed, fixing a sandwich, making the
bed — demand time, attention and sometimes
assistance that was not necessary before the stroke. As an
occupational therapist, I redesign activities so that the demands
— for time, attention and effort — are a better fit for a person’s
abilities. Redesigning activities means altering the method of
the activity, altering the tools used to do the activity, or both.
Redesigning is more than just matching methods or tools
to tasks. We are all creatures of habit, and we each handle
change differently, so how much redesign of an activity
is acceptable is different for each person. Activities have
meaning related to memories, roles, culture — so redesign
has to respect the meaning of the activity.
Here are some redesign methods (tips) and tools (gadgets)
that many people who have had strokes have found useful.
Don’t let activities consume
more energy than they deserve.
The easiest way to do this is to
sit rather than stand for any task
that can be done sitting down:
brushing your teeth, putting on a shirt, making a sandwich,
even vacuuming the rug (try it!). Standing when it isn’t
necessary is not “exercise.” Sitting when you can is a way to
save energy for tasks that have to be done standing, or tasks
that demand more physical energy.
Plan and Pace
Energy isn’t all physical.
Learning new ways of doing
things or having to pay close
attention takes mental energy.
Brains get tired, too. Pushing
yourself when your body or your
brain is tired leads to fatigue-related mistakes, difficulty controlling muscles
and, sometimes, falls and injuries.
Before you start your day, think ahead. Plan to take breaks
or rest. Break up more difficult or energy-consuming tasks
into shorter, simpler tasks. Pacing yourself is essential to
allow your brain and body to do their best.
Simplifying activities is a
great way to save energy and
pace yourself. Simplifying
reduces effort or gets more
results out of a single effort.
• Dressing and undressing is easier when clothing has
fewer fasteners or has hook-and-loop fasteners instead of
buttons or zippers.
• Making the bed takes much less time and effort if
blankets and top sheets are replaced with a single
comforter and duvet (comforter cover).
• Using a medication organizer that’s filled once a week
means not having to deal with multiple pill vials every
day — or multiple times each day.
By Carol Siebert | Occupational Therapist