Fun activities for a house bound dad?
February 26, 2014 7:41 AM   Subscribe

My poor dad is recovering from an accident, and is stuck in the house during this crazy winter. What are some fun activities to keep him busy while we wait for the snow to melt?

So long story short, my dad is currently recovering from a bad accident. Physically he is doing good and can walk without any aid, but his balance and strength are still not back to normal. Mentally he is doing pretty well but still needs to work on his ability to concentrate and focus on things. I'd say he's at about 80%. The doctors say in time he will make a full recovery, thank god.

So the poor guy is stuck at home right now and bored out of his mind. In the early days, we were with him every second, but now he's pretty self sufficient so it's ok to leave him for a few hours while my mom and sister are at work. He's not in danger and can fend for himself, prepare lunch, etc. He's just bored and frustrated and honestly, pretty depressed that he can't get back to his normal active lifestyle.

Here is how he's filling his days right now - watching TV, working on a jigsaw puzzle, playing on his iPad, writing in his journal, reading books (but he only has the patience to read a couple pages at a time), doing little chores like vacuuming and washing dishes. That's about it. Normally my dad is very physically active and is always outside chopping wood or renovating the house or working in the garden or driving around on errands, etc. Being stuck inside doing nothing all day is KILLING him. There's like four feet of snow outside right now so he absolutely cannot go outside without one of us with him at all times.

So my question is, what's some stuff he can do in the house to keep himself from going stir crazy? I hate the idea of him just playing solitaire all day. If you were stuck at home for a few months, how would you keep busy?
posted by silverstatue to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Does he cook at all? Some semi-gourmet cooking (stuff with a lot of prep work, for example) might be entertaining and a treat that he wouldn't bother with, usually.

Other than that, maybe some models? It sounds like he enjoys building things - does he have any tremors that would prevent that?
posted by maryr at 7:59 AM on February 26, 2014

Can he do indoor gardening? With pots, windowboxes, etc.
posted by JanetLand at 8:00 AM on February 26, 2014

Are there forums* you could sign him up to, to discuss his interests? Are there online versions of games he could play where you can chat to the person you're pitted against eg chess, scrabble or draughts?

*maybe he's a mefite in the making?
posted by greenish at 8:00 AM on February 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


Bicep curls?

Plants vs. Zombies?
posted by St. Peepsburg at 8:08 AM on February 26, 2014

Are crafts an option? If so, what sort of limitations does he have while he recuperates (e.g. how's his eyesight, dexterity)?
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:35 AM on February 26, 2014

I can go nuts if I'm stuck inside and/or unable to work out. I'd focus on that in addition to looking for more sedentary activities, because both winter and a sudden dropoff in physical activity can have very real effects on your mood, and keeping yourself occupied can help but not always solve the root problem. Here's what helps me:

- ANY physical activity at all. Whatever he can do without impeding his recovery, even if it's just waving his arms around for a couple minutes. Gentle stretching or restorative yoga, qi gong, slow sit-ups or squats if he's cleared for that, dancing around the house. Check with his doctor/physical therapist for things he can do.

- Having little springy/summery reminders around. Around this time of year, I start googling pictures of backyards in summer; just seeing outdoor photos can lift my spirits. Maybe get him a bunch of potted plants if he doesn't have any. Lemonade in the fridge, fruity/grassy/beachy-scented hand soap, brightly colored flip flops to wear around the house... you kind of have to get creative.

As for other activities: what sort of iPad games does he like? Given that he's having trouble focusing but still has a lot of downtime, maybe consider an RPG with a good long storyline but not overly-complicated gameplay. The iOS version of Final Fantasy VI just came out and he might be into that - it's engrossing but very accessible. I also enjoyed Ghost Trick, which is a neat puzzle/mystery game; the first two chapters are free so he can decide if he likes it.
posted by Metroid Baby at 8:53 AM on February 26, 2014

His dexterity/eye sight is definitely not at 100% right now, although he doesn't have tremors. He has a set of physical therapy exercises he does throughout the day which includes working with hand weights, assisted squats, etc.

I don't think he would have the patience to do a plot-driven computer game, unfortunately - he plays quick solve-the-puzzle type stuff like Soduko, the stuff on Lumosity, this move the blocks around to reach the exit game, um... lots and lots of solitaire.

I would love him to do indoor gardening and I bought him this adorable book on terrariums but... I know he won't do that kind of stuff unless one of us is with him. So it's a good group activity, but not something he can do to pass the time when he's alone.

I love the idea of bringing some spring/summer hints into the house! I will definitely work on that.
posted by silverstatue at 9:18 AM on February 26, 2014

I was going to say get him The Sims!

I love mine because not only do you get to play God, you can build and furnish dwellings and have them interact.

I can get engrossed in their little dramaz for hours.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:19 AM on February 26, 2014

I'd suggest DVDs. Ones with beginning yoga, ones with music and dance moves. Documentaries about things he's interested in, and documentaries about things he's never heard of. Movies, lots of movies, especially anything to make him laugh. Norman Cousins, whom the doctors despaired of, took massive doses of Vit. C (not suggesting this) and Marx Brothers movies (can't hurt). Also, something that makes watching movies much more engaging is talking about them afterward. Ask him about the movies, both the plots and how he reacted.

And although this sounds really silly, my aunt was in a similar situation, and for about six months she painted paint-by-numbers paintings. It helped her to focus, helped her coordination, we had dozens of paintings, and then -- bang, she was finished with that. But it really engaged her for awhile.
posted by kestralwing at 9:34 AM on February 26, 2014

Is he physically capable of doing stuff with a Wii? If he likes renovating stuff, can he build small stuff, or is his dexterity too poor? He might not like current plot-driven stuff, but old style adventure games could be up his alley.
posted by jeather at 9:47 AM on February 26, 2014

Garden planning -- seed and plant catalogs, books, and web forums can eat up a LOT of time, very pleasantly.
posted by Corvid at 11:13 AM on February 26, 2014

My dad is not your dad, but sounds a lot like him. When I was a kid, my brother bought a radio controlled car - a serious one, not something you could get at a toystore. My dad had little interest in RC cars (and still doesn't), but when he saw the kit - all these machined alloy mechanisms that had to be assembled, nuts, bolts, suspension systems, etc, he could barely restrain himself from taking over, and was practically twitching in the background as my brother slowly assembled it all.

If your dad is doing a jigsaw puzzle, I'm sure he'd respond to assembling something more interesting. RC Helicopter? Flintlock rifle kit? Something practical?
If you can't think of something, then even a big Lego Technic set (something with interesting complex mechanisms) would probably be more engaging than a jigsaw puzzle, with the bonus of Lego lasting forever, for visiting kids/grandkids.
posted by anonymisc at 11:21 AM on February 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

Does your dad like Star Wars and have a semi decent PC? If so, he could get into SWTOR.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 3:31 PM on February 26, 2014

The only solution is to leave the house or to have meaningful work to do. Sorry.
The problem may not so much be boredom but rather a feeling of uselessness or invisibility. Hobbies don't help.

Try to find him a way to get out or find him something useful to do.

Regarding ways to get out. How is transit in your area? Is there a door-to-door public transit service that he could use while he is disabled? Then at least he could go to the mall or the swimming pool while you are out. If there is such a service, find out what it would take to get your dad signed up. Alternatively, can you hire an attendant to take him out a similar location on a weekly basis? That would give him something to look forward to.

There's lots of productive things to do while staying in.

There's the activities pertaining to the accident that your dad could possibly attend to, for example, hiring a personal injury attorney, scanning every accident related receipt and document, filing insurance reimbursement claims, etc. This takes a lot of time.

Now is also a great time to do household decluttering projects. Since he can vacuum he might be able to manage cleaning out closets. He could also go through his old files and discard unneeded files, shred some, etc. Actually I could see a shredder as a somewhat entertaining tool.

If you have family photos to put in albums, now is the time. Don't make him go arty, just get the work done.

He could do all the paperwork things that need doing and never got around to - updating will, re-aligning stock portfolio, sending greetings and thank you cards to well wishers that visited after accident, etc.

If he wants to be really useful and there are suitable children nearby, he could babysit older (age 5+) children for a few hours.

Get your dad a pass out of the house or give him a truly useful task to do. He might be happy to be useful while he's home however he can.
posted by crazycanuck at 10:04 PM on February 26, 2014

Crazycanuck, you hit the nail on the head - most of his problem is frustration/depression over his situation and feeling like he is helpless/an invalid when before, he was the strongest, most capable person in the family. I'm trying to make him see that he will get back to where he was - he just has to be patient! Alas, must easier said than done.

He absolutely wants/needs to get out of the house. Unfortunately he's in a rural area where there is no mass transit and you have to drive miles to get to anything even resembling civilization.

Organizing the photo albums is a great idea! Also sending thank you cards to everyone that's helped us through this difficult time. That is something that he could do on his own, and it needs to be done anyway.

Some good stuff here. Thanks everyone!
posted by silverstatue at 8:26 AM on February 27, 2014

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