Tips for Thanksgiving After a Stroke

Thanksgiving is that time of year when families get together to relax, enjoy meals, catch up and make new memories while fondly reminiscing about old memories. For families who live far away from each other throughout the year, Thanksgiving might be the only time all year long for everyone to get together in one place.

The first gathering after a loved one has had a stroke always brings new challenges for the stroke survivor, for the Thanksgiving host and for some of the guests.

Here are some tips to make the first family gathering after a stroke go a lot smoother.

1. Prepare Children Ahead of Time.

When a family member has a stroke, it is more confusing for children than some other illnesses because there is no obvious bandage or wound. Kids can understand the idea of a stroke if it is explained in an easy to understand manner and you can read about age appropriate explanations here to help guide you

2. Make Sure There are a Few Low Salt and Low Cholesterol Dishes.

Stroke survivors often have to make significant lifestyle adjustments- and that includes dietary modifications. Some people may be able to make some exceptions and indulge on special occasions - but a typical All-American Thanksgiving dinner might be a bit too much for someone who was recently diagnosed with a stroke risk factor such as diabetes, hypertension or high cholesterol. See if you can prepare a few low salt or low-fat dishes or ask guests who have healthy cooking talents to bring a stroke-friendly dish.

For more information about diet and stroke, learn about low salt and how to choose healthy cooking oils.

3. Show the Stroke Survivor he is Valuable.

A stroke takes an emotional toll. If you can bring out old photos, or share pleasant stories, it will serve to remind the stroke survivor of his value. New family members who might not remember the stroke survivor as very active can see her in a different, more relatable light.


4. Make the Home Handicap Accessible.

Stairs outside or inside the home might be difficult to climb or some areas of the home may be tricky to navigate. If the host has a lot on his hands already, keep a lookout for safety issues and help make transferring from room to room smoother throughout the day by moving items out of the way or making sure lights are on for easy visibility. Usually, a stroke survivor can get around a lot easier at his own home than in someone else's home. 

5. Let go of Old Hurts.

If he picked favorites or if she was discouraging, remember that his opinion isn't the end all and be all. A stroke makes a person who used to seem authoritative really seem human. This may be a reminder to move on. Just as a stroke can turn your loved one’s life upside down in a negative way, it may trigger some people to turn negative memories or old hurts upside down in a positive way. 

6. Organize Group Activities That Use His Skill.

Some group activities can be fun, promoting group bonding without being physically or mentally demanding for a stroke victim who might be adjusting to a mild or moderate handicap.

Drawing on pumpkins, playing charades or putting up holiday decorations can encourage participation from members of various ages and abilities. 

7. Make Unlikely Reunions Possible.

Sometimes, after a stroke, people start to recall old friendships or work acquaintances warmheartedly. If you can help make connections happen on holidays like Thanksgiving, these brief reunions can brighten spirits for months.

For some families, the first Thanksgiving after someone had a stroke can be worrisome, sad or awkward. Whether you are the host or a guest, there are steps you can take to help smooth over the holiday events and help build warm new memories for everyone.

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