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For People with a Disability, Holidays Take Planning and Creativity

Here are some tips for finding new ways to do the usual holiday activities.

By Carla White
Shepherd Center Patient

Though often called the most wonderful time of the year, the holidays can present challenges, especially for those with a disability. Here are some tips for keeping the focus on family and fun.

1. Family
The holidays can be stressful with family and friends. Make sure the home or wherever you are visiting is accessible to you ahead of time. If you are not sure about accessing the home, hotel or other type of destination, call them and ask. It will break the ice, and it will make it easier on all parties if everyone knows what to expect. Be specific about your needs. Remember, the holidays are a time to be thankful that family and friends are with you. Enjoy!

2. Traveling
Anytime we travel – with or without a disability – it takes planning. If you are flying, contact the airline ahead of time to arrange seating and an escort to get you to the gate. If you or a loved one are driving during the holidays, take advantage of the many apps that can assist you in making stops, finding the best routes and avoiding heavy traffic. If you plan ahead of time, it makes traveling easier and more enjoyable for everyone.

3. Shopping
Thank goodness for online shopping! Buying gifts is as easy as sitting at a computer. So many stores provide free shipping, or you can check inventory and pick up items right at the store. No matter how you shop, remember – it’s not the gift, but rather the thought and being together that counts.

4. Cooking
We all have our limits when it comes to shopping for groceries and cooking. Shopping for groceries is easier when you can place an order and pick up your items right at the front of store. Or, consider grocery delivery. Amazon, Instacart and many other grocery services will deliver right to your door.

5. Hosting at Your Home
Hosting a dinner at your home – where you know it’s already accessible – can be easier if you ask each person to bring a dish. It makes it fun and easy on everyone to bring one dish, and you do not have to do it all. If it is a large group or holiday party, make it an appetizer gathering, dessert swap or progressive dinner. Whatever shape it takes, during the holidays, getting together and seeing family and friends is all that matters.

CARLA WHITE became paralyzed from the waist down from transverse myelitis. She completed rehabilitation in Shepherd Center’s inpatient Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation Program and Day Program. She is currently a patient in Shepherd Center’s Multi-Specialty Clinic.

About Shepherd Center

Shepherd Center provides world-class clinical care, research, and family support for people experiencing the most complex conditions, including spinal cord and brain injuries, multi-trauma, traumatic amputations, stroke, multiple sclerosis, and pain. An elite center recognized as both Spinal Cord Injury and Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems, Shepherd Center is ranked by U.S. News as one of the nation’s top hospitals for rehabilitation. Shepherd Center treats thousands of patients annually with unmatched expertise and unwavering compassion to help them begin again.