Senior Health

4/8/2021 | By Terri L. Jones

My father has always loved to deep sea fish and work in the yard. At 80, those two very physical activities kept him not only in good shape, but also relaxed and contented. But then Daddy had a stroke. He recovered his speech almost immediately, but was left with weakness on his left side and was in rehabilitation for several months after a stroke.

The first fishing season after his stroke, he wasn’t stable enough to go out on a boat but refused to fish off a dock. “I don’t enjoy that kind of fishing,” we heard over and over again. He also wasn’t able to safely drive his riding mower, weed, or even walk around the yard picking up sticks and pinecones. He was frustrated.

The most valuable advice he received during that time was from a doctor who told him he’d be very unhappy if he insisted upon doing exactly what he used to do in exactly the same way. He needed to adapt.

Making Adjustments

Now instead of going out on long, 10-hour deep sea charters, my father has agreed to go on short fishing trips in the bay. Plus, he’s bought an electric reel, which will help him bring in those heavy fish more quickly and easily. As for yard work, he’s back to picking up pinecones with a grabber tool, keeping his walker close at hand for stability.

To learn new ways to do the activities you love, you may need the help of an occupational therapist. Or let your spouse, a friend, or your adult children be your right hand – measuring the ingredients while cooking, or digging the holes for you to plant in your flowerbeds.

Finding New Interests After a Stroke

If you can’t adapt your activities, maybe it’s time you found new ones. After years enjoying the same hobbies, it may be hard for you to even think of other pastimes you might enjoy. Here are some suggestions to get you started (also reach out to the people who know you best for ideas):

  • Birdwatching or nature watching of any kind
  • Drawing, painting or making models
  • Visiting art galleries and museums
  • Playing an instrument
  • Photography
  • Puzzles and games (board games and computer games)
  • Writing in a journal or trying your hand at writing short stories or poetry
  • Genealogy

Staying Engaged

Whatever you choose to do, engaging in an activity you enjoy can improve your mood, ease your anxiety, and increase your confidence. And at a time when you’re probably feeling as if you’re not contributing as much as you’d like (maybe you can’t take out the trash, do dishes or handle repairs around the house anymore), hobbies can give you some of your sense of purpose back. That’s so important after a stroke!

Terri L. Jones

Terri L. Jones has been writing educational and informative topics for the senior industry for over ten years, and is a frequent and longtime contributor to Seniors Guide. She also writes for many other local magazines and publications.

Terri L. Jones