Help me entertain him ... senior stroke version
September 25, 2013 9:18 AM   Subscribe

So, the end result of my previous question was a stroke a week later after the warfarin was readjusted. His stroke presented in an atypical manner, so was not treated with clot busting drugs (a decision I concurred with at the time, due to the Doctors reasoning - and we have since discussed it and are on same page with his care). Mostly it's just been a whole bunch of bad luck, so we go on from here. So, I need suggestions for games to play and tasty treats to prepare for Mr. B, details below.

Mr. B has spent his life as a musician and entertainer; and entertains with stories where ever he goes. Now he can barely speak, and may or may not ever play music again. His right side is fully paralyzed - his dominant hand. It is also difficult for him to swallow. To help him deal with this, I spend a lot of time at the hospital and want to keep him active. He has a Kindle to read with, and a DVD player to watch movies. I'd like to play games with him, and would love suggestions for appropriate board games. Right now, he doesn't want anything that requires too much heavy thinking, and no word games for now. We have Blockus and Sorry. What else can he easily play with one non-dominant hand on a hospital tray?

Also, he can only eat pureed foods, and the hosp serves the same thing twice a day (roast beef, potatos, vegies). What are some tasty things I can fix and puree for him? I know, anything can be pureed .. but what taste combinations would be particularly good? And what would be the best way to thicken coffee so he can have a few spoonfuls?

Thanks so much for your help on this, it's a week in and he is so bored. (also, T.V. is not an option.)
posted by batikrose to Health & Fitness (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: This is a really awful run for Mr. B, I'm sorry you are both in this position.

365 Vegan Smoothies has a lot of healthy, tasty blended drinks in it. Don't be spooked by "vegan" if you're not, you could just as easily sub in regular dairy milk for the soy/almond/etc. she calls for. I'm very partial to Kale Sunshine Refresh right now (almond milk, oj, mango, banana and kale). Pretty much all of the recipes use whole fruits, many also contain vegetables.

Spoonable Coffee? Try coffee pudding. As written the recipe is very decadent and desserty, but if you skip the whipped cream and reduce the sugar, you could end up with something closer to a cup of joe.

I like Fluxx and variants for lighthearted, low-stress card gaming.
posted by apparently at 9:30 AM on September 25, 2013

My grandfather is also in the hospital with a stroke. He really likes puddings (served by the hospital), which could be coffee-flavoured just as easily as anything else. Coffee yogurt might work, or even ice cream/milkshake if he's allowed that.

I'd look maybe for a press your luck kind of game, because there's enough randomness in it that it is okay for not hard thinking.
posted by jeather at 9:47 AM on September 25, 2013

Do you have MP3 / CD player?

A CD of 'best of' a radio show with lots of stories (Like Car Talk or Lake Wobegon), or some NPR podcasts, as well as CDs of his favorite music might help pass the time.
posted by effigy at 9:57 AM on September 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Oh, I'm so sorry.

There are a zillion recipes out there for coffee mousse that range from super-simple (cool whip and instant coffee) to all-afternoon projects, with or without dairy or raw eggs or other things he may need to avoid. Assuming mousse is texturally okay in the first place, which I would think it would be. Coffee gelee (jelly/jell-o/gelatin) is popular in Asia and there are a ton of recipes around for that too, if that becomes a texture option.

Butternut or acorn squash, or sweet potato, can go either sweet or savory. I really dislike them sweet and prefer them with some onion and garlic, but there's also the butter/cinnamon route.

Turkey with some dressing is a familiar flavor that doesn't suffer too much from being mushed together. Ditto the contents of chicken pot pie, red beans and rice with sausage, broccoli with cheese sauce, meat(balls) and sauce with or without pasta (or lasagna), ratatouille, American Chinese food.

I don't know if this is a concern, but when we were pureeing for my grandfather's dysphagia, we had to jam it full of fat and watch carbs. Cream cheese works on anything that might have a cream sauce or sour cream flavor and helps prop up thin purees, if dairy is okay. You can emulsify some things with oil, though it takes some practice to get the hang of it.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:00 AM on September 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I'm so sorry to hear about this and wish you and Mr. B all the best.

For the coffee, there are a bunch of different thickeners on the market that are made for exactly this, thickening liquids without affecting the taste. If you look up food thickener, you can find a variety of options. You can also probably get some recommendations from the speech pathologists on his team about what products make sense and how to best use them.
posted by goggie at 10:04 AM on September 25, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: If he's at the stage where he's getting physical/speech therapy, or even if he's not, PT and speech therapists probably have good ideas for entertaining activities that don't overstress him and might even help him regain some function over time. There should be some at the hospital or elsewhere that you can consult with, if you haven't already.

And, I'm so sorry you both are going through this. I hope you have the support you need. Caretaking is exhausting! Be sure and get enough sleep, food and the occasional break while you're going through this. And maybe even someone to talk to; if I'd been through the ordeal with the dentist and now this, I'd be about ready to crack. My spouse is a musician too, and one of his biggest fears is losing that part of himself due to disability. Wishing the best for you both.
posted by emjaybee at 10:11 AM on September 25, 2013

Some simple board games that jump to mind: SET, Chinese Checkers, Battleship, Othello.

Here are some pureed soup recipes that could at least give some ideas. Or if you already make any lentil, bean, or potato soups, they are all really amenable to pureeing.
posted by snorkmaiden at 11:37 AM on September 25, 2013

We got a card holder for my mom which allowed us to play a lot of games like Gin or Go Fish or Kings in the Corners.

Depending on his abilities, maybe he would like some board games about music, maybe if you modify the gameplay or the rules?
Encore - they give you a word and you come up with songs containing that word.
Songburst - is listed as a "complete the lyrics" game (given the title, artist, year and the first few words), but maybe he could hum the song
Scene It, Music edition - it's a trivial pursuit type game, but a lot of the questions are video questions

For short answers, you could put a set of scrabble tiles out and let him spell out the words, or use the Kindle to type out the answers.
posted by CathyG at 12:08 PM on September 25, 2013

For a game, how about Connect Four or a similar kind of tic-tac-toe style game?

For coffee: stir up coffee ice cream, optionally adding some meal-replacer like Ensure or Boost for some extra vitamins or whatever... you'll be making a thick slurry, like a milkshake.

nthing that you want to talk to a speech pathologist for ideas about swallowing.
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:40 PM on September 25, 2013

Simple roll-the-dice racing games such as Snail's Pace Race or Monza might work.
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:55 PM on September 25, 2013

Best answer: How is his understanding? He might enjoy audio books to while away the hours. If you get terrible crime then you can doze off for 10 minutes and not really miss any of the story.

In terms of pureed food, think about the things you eat normally that are already a puree consistency. Smooth vegetable soups would be my favourite as long as they are thick enough. My speech therapy department feel that some salmon mousses are smooth enough, and a smooth loose pate might be ok. Of course there are lots of things like chocolate mousse that would be fine, but if his hospital is anything like ours, they have lots of sweet snacks suitable for puree diets (yogurt, custard, mousses, fruit puree) but not much savoury. If he likes curries, they might go down well because they are strongly flavoured. A big component of 'taste' is actually a reaction to texture so strongly flavoured things would be a change. There may also be additions he would like to add to hospital food. If he's having beef then horseradish sauce may help. Pork? Apple sauce. Anything meaty? No problem having barbeque sauce. These change the taste of the meals and make them more appetising for some people.

The speech therapist should be able to advise about drink thickeners. There are two kinds - starch based thickeners (a little bit like wallpaper paste) and gum based thickeners (a little bit like jelly, or if you don't do it right, a lot like snot). Either can thicken hot drinks and which one he prefers is personal preference. However, coffee mousses/puddings might be more appetising.

Good luck. There's loads of information online about a puree diet for people with dysphagia if you want to look around.
posted by kadia_a at 1:26 PM on September 25, 2013

Audiobooks and podcasts, depending on what has been affected, may be easier for him to absorb than written text. Dumb question but have you increased the font size and tried adjusting the tones on the kindle to make it easier to read? Some stroke damage can be visual and make reading small text harder. The kindle has a built in read aloud function that can help if auditory is easier.

Ask his speech therapist about assisted language apps, the kind where you tap a few visual buttons to string together communications. There are apps available on the kindle if it's the one that has android.

It would be worth trying a borrowed ipad to see if that makes a difference because the touchscreen can be slowed down to suit limited co-ordination, making playing checkers for example actually possible with just tapping as opposed to a real board that involves grasping, lifting and other hand coordination.

Also, if he's in recovery, he may not be that bored in that just eating, sitting up, talking to people is already the equivalent to a regular day of work because the brain is recovering from so much. Does he say he wants more entertainment or activities? He may need more rest than you'd expect.
posted by viggorlijah at 3:41 AM on September 26, 2013

Response by poster: Just thought I'd put an update. At that time he did need the activities. Once he entered rehab, the first few weeks he did not, now he is back to needing some entertaining, but is far more able to provide it for himself. All of these suggestions were of great help, and the ones on foods will continue to be as his ability to swallow has not, and may not, come back.
posted by batikrose at 12:46 PM on November 8, 2013

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