Fun Gifts for Stroke Patients

This list of fun gifts for stroke patients can help pass the time in the hospital or recovering from a stroke at home. All of these ideas, in their small way, help make progress towards stroke recovery.

A few things to remember:

  • Ask the stroke survivor’s speech pathologist/physical therapist about different kinds of games and activities they would suggest.
  • Already knowing the likes/dislikes of the stroke survivor will be a good start for finding the best gifts for stroke patients.

Recovering from a stroke is a long, long journey, and there is victory in the small steps! The good thing is, there is a lot of sharing of information when it comes down to fun ideas to help stroke patients. When one thing doesn’t work, press on and try something else!

Although many of these suggestions can apply to all age groups. look for specific activities, pop culture, fads, etc. that appeal to the younger stroke patient category for their benefit.

Woman stroke patient in hospital bed petting a therapy dog.
Woman stroke patient smiles as she pets a therapy dog in the hospital.

Cheer up a stroke patient

Stroke patients are highly susceptible to depression. Imagine getting bogged down with a sudden disability, and then confined to two months in a boring hospital room. Definitely a downer for the human spirit! Give the stroke patient a morale boost by adding some life to the room, along with engaging with them in creative ways.

Although the patient may not be able to participate actively, they will appreciate the change of scenery. Here are some things you can do to bring happiness into their world:

  • add posters to the walls
  • add a homemade banner, cheering them on
  • change out flowers to add a pop of color
  • plant a seed for them to watch grow
  • give them a cheerful blanket of their own
  • order a blanket with grandkids faces on
  • set up something to track progress, or mark days
  • put up smiling faces of friends and family,
    have them wave for a fun collage!
  • display pictures of grandkids
  • share photobooks of family and friends
  • post pictures drawn by the grandkids/kids
  • play music they like (btw, music therapy/singing therapy is very healing!)
  • arrange for water therapy
  • bring in a therapy dog/service dog
  • pamper them with gifts, mini spa events
Encouraging poster signed by friends, a happy pinate, colorful posters all cheer up the hospital room of a stroke patient.
Encouraging poster signed by friends, a happy piñata, colorful posters all cheer up the hospital room of a stroke patient.

Creative ideas to bring happiness

Post-stroke patients struggle to retain new information and often rely on old memories, so being told stories from their childhood will make their heart sing!

One nice thing I did for my mom, was to bring up her good china on Mother’s Day to the nursing home. I made a picnic lunch and my brother and I enjoyed it with her on the patio outside.

My mom was a “fashionista”. My sister assembled ziplock bags of her favorite jewelry sets to match her favorite (comfortable) outfits. Then she would make sure mom was “dressed to the 9’s” in the nursing home. That’s funny, because when people remember my mom, they would always say “she was always so put together, never a hair out of place.” Getting her hair done was important to her and looking good – and we made it happen.

Senior women having fun with a photo booth.
Senior women having fun with a photo booth.

I opted to bring mom everything for a foot bath – we had our own little spa event. I sat on the floor and gave her a foot scrub, wash, and then finished it all up by painting her toe nails.

We also brought her Maltese pet dog to the nursing home to cheer her up (after getting permission). Therapy dogs/emotional support dogs bring comfort to stroke patients struggling with aphasia (difficulty speaking). Turns out, it really takes the pressure off when both the dog and the patient can’t talk!

Photo booths/ops are great fun! I took my mom to a Mother’s Day brunch that had photo booth props setup in a side room. My siblings, mom, and I had fun donning feather boas and funny hats for the photo. It was a memorable photo with all of us smiling!

Another thing to boost morale is to connect your loved one with others who have gone through a stroke. There’s nothing better than hearing success stories from those who have been through it. In addition, their advice probably carries more weight than family 🙂

Keep the morale train moving: check out inspirational stroke survivor websites, such as Life Gives You Lemons. Tara, the author, is a youthful stroke survivor. Learning how others overcame stroke challenges can be very encouraging.

Another stroke survivor, Art Jenson, does a heck of a job over at Strokesite.com Art, I really appreciate your rebel attitude, you rock! Both of these fine people are not letting a stroke define who they are, and have taken to blogging to share their advice, and recommend products they’ve found the most helpful in recovery.

Entertainment gift ideas for stroke patients

The stroke patient will not be able to enjoy entertainment immediately. A doctor will assess the severity of their stroke, and then an intensive program of physical therapy will often be prescribed. In addition, having a stroke is very tiring, they will need their rest.

Gradually, you can introduce entertainment ideas to them, as they are ready. Full recovery can take some time, and they will have to pace themselves. Help make the long journey back enjoyable with these activities. FYI, check out ways to support a sick person and their family who are dealing with the immediacy of a stroke. They will appreciate your gifts of kind actions, especially if the stroke victim has children.

Seniors dancing and having fun with Karaoke with their friend recovering from stroke.
Seniors dancing and having fun with Karaoke with their friend recovering from stroke.

Music. Listen to the radio. Play karaoke. Check out speech therapy videos on YouTube. You’ll be able to find sing-a-long videos and regular singing to strengthen vocal cords. Buy noise-canceling headphones so they can listen to their favorite tunes, or a subscription to Spotify. If the stroke patient played piano, they may need piano keyboard stickers added to the keys to help identify the keys on the keyboard.

TV. Upgrade to a bigger TV and one connected to the Internet. A stroke patient can enjoy Youtube videos, Netflix or other streaming services, or watch videos that offer therapy ideas. Buy a simplistic TV remote control that is easy for the stroke patient to use.

If you’re looking for more fun activities for stroke patients, visit “Unleash Your Creativity: Engaging Activities for the Bedridden.”

Tablet (iPad or Kindle, etc.) can stream Netflix/HULU/hbomax or play a game (solitaire), or read on it. Matching games improve hand/eye coordination. Some patients find books easier to read on tablets as they can more easily swipe with their hand to “turn” pages.

Don’t forget purchasing a stylus, which also may or may not help, but worth thinking about. The stylus may come in handy for continuing to use their smart phone.

Be aware that tablets can be heavy and awkward to hold. Be sure to get a tablet stand so they can enjoy using it without the frustration of balancing it. I was amazed to find that tablet stands are available in floor models, gooseneck models, models with flex legs, table models and way better pillow models than my cheapy one I use from Walmart! Do your research. Now that I know these exist, I’m going to get something to use with my stair exerciser!

SAMHOUSING Tablet Floor Stand, Adjustable Universal 360-degree Rotatable Metal Tablet Holder, Phone Stand for iPad/iPhoneX/iPad Pro or Other 4.7~12.9 Inch-Screen Devices (Black)

MoKo New Tablet Pillow Stand - Adjustable Viewing Angles Design, Tablet Pillow Holder for Lap/Bed/Desk, with Stylus Pen Holder, Compatible with iPad Pro 11/10.9/10.2 Up to 11", Phone, Book, Gray

Writing tools. A notepad and pen are valuable to be able to write/draw because of memory loss and aphasia. Writing and drawing pictures (even if they don’t make sense) can strengthen the brain.

Distraction toys for those with a stroke. Fidget spinners (to regain dexterity), “calm-down” bottles with glitter in Fidget toys/fidget muffs/sensory toys (although for dementia patients, stroke patients enjoy feeling the different textures, tassels, and buttons). Busy boards and fidget aprons.

Recovering stroke patient with headphones on enjoying music.
Recovering stroke patient with headphones on enjoying music.

Hanging out with friends. Staying in touch with old friends will bring normal back to their lives. Chatting, having coffee, etc. are low key ways to socialize. When the stroke survivor is ready, they will want to engage more, such as dancing to some tunes, or pose for funny pictures (which can be done at home).

Individual brain games for stroke patients to enjoy

There are lots of fun activities to keep a stroke patient entertained – and moving forward. It’s important to not present games or activities that are so hard, they leave the stroke patient feeling defeated.

Stroke Recovery Activity Book - Puzzles Workbook for Traumatic Brain Injury & Aphasia Rehabilitation - Large Print

Keeping Busy Wooden Tic Tac Toe Game Dementia Activities for Seniors – Large Pieces with Matching & Puzzle Templates – Cognitive Games for Elderly Engaging Alzheimers Products - Shelf & Table Decor

  • soduka, crosswords, word games, word searches, connect-the-dots, and other activity books for stroke patients
  • solo card games like solitaire, or matching card games
  • jigsaw puzzles (make it special by adding a family picture!)
  • a book of mystery puzzles
  • shape threading (play buttons).
  • flashcards

Some of the puzzles and activities may prove to be too hard to do. That’s OK. They can be set aside for when the patient is ready for them.

Specialty stroke recovery objects don’t need to be purchased. An activity could be a as simple as depositing coins into a piggy bank (a dexterity exercise). Other no cost/low cost activities include dropping colored balls into containers, naming colors, or crumpling up paper and tossing.

Interactive games for stroke patients

Any board game with small pieces work really well as therapy for hand problems.  The stroke patient will need to practice finger dexterity and hand eye coordination while moving the pieces.  As with all games, there’s a cognitive element required as well.

Examples of simple games would include UNO, Connect Four, Simon Says (electronic matching game), dominoes, BINGO, and simple matching games.

2024 New Magnetic Chess Game Set with Rocks,Fun Table Top Multiplayer Magnetic Chess Game with Stones,Magnet Game with String,Magnet Chess Game,Cluster Game for Kids Adult Board Games (A)

Syahro Magnetic Color and Number Maze Toy, Wooden Magnet Balls Puzzles Board, Fine Motor Skills Toddler Activities, Montessori Gift for Boys Girls 3-5 Years Old, Preschool Busy Board for Kids

I started thinking about magnet games, and I think these would be awesome for stroke patients. There is a game called “magnetic chess” – but don’t worry, it’s not like the traditional chess game. You have a string circle and set magnetic stones down randomly, when the stones attract each other and snap together, you pick them up and get points. You really have to watch the video on their product page – it looks like a lot of fun.

The picture of the train slot game is a solo activity, but it also has to do with magnets, sorting, and numbers. Although geared to Montessori kids gifts, why not steal the best brain games for our loved ones? All ages benefit from them!

Stroke survivor enjoying soccer indoors with grandson.
Stroke survivor enjoying soccer indoors with grandson.

Reddit is full of recommendations for games for those who have had a stroke. A few of the recommendations I find doubtful. Even on a good day, I don’t think I would care for some of them, which include complicated strategy and small pieces. Perform a Google a search such as “reddit games for stroke patients” to bring up lots of forums with game suggestions.

I would also direct you to Youtube, where people have made videos about how to play any games you are interested in. This way you can get a visual of the game, how big the pieces are, if it seems complicated, etc. before you buy it.

Another option is if the nursing home, hospital, physical therapist, friend, neighbor, etc. can loan you a game to try out. Even libraries let you check out games – or pick up a cheap one at a thrift store. Otherwise you are investing a fortune in games you are unsure if they will work.

While looking for games, look for these features to support a stroke patient:

  • large numbers
  • easy rules/easy to learn
  • simple ideas
  • not super tiny pieces
  • pattern recognition opportunities
  • short time to play
  • strong colors, easy shapes
  • highly visual games
  • simple matching games
  • games that strengthen memory
  • large-size playing cards (easier to handle and with large print)
Stroke patient playing cards with grandson.
Stroke patient playing cards with grandson.

Games can be adapted to allow the stroke patient to participate. For example, start with a low number of cards/pairs to see how it goes and then increase difficulty as needed. A game could be played without speaking (such as Go Fish where you only show your card). Make your own rules up as you go to allow the stroke patient to still enjoy the experience.

Use accessories, such as a domino tray or card holder devices, that can make it easier for the stroke patient to manage the game pieces (dominoes/cards).

Yellow Mountain Imports Panorama Wooden Playing Card Holders/Racks - Set of 4 Card Organizers

Wood Domino Racks, Set of 4 Trays for Mexican Train and Other Dominoes Games, for Families and Kids Ages 8 and up

Yuanhe Set of 4 Playing Card Holder for Kids Seniors,Hands Free Cards Holders for Poker Parties, Family Card Game Nights

Adaptive sports for stroke survivors

A stroke survivor can still enjoy some of their favorite sports, even if they have to be modified. Here are some ideas:

Websites that offer adaptive sports accessorie/games:

I enjoyed the S&S Worldwide website that really pays attention to the special game needs of their customers.

Art and craft projects for stroke patients

Art and craft projects are a wonderful activity. Not only does it work the hand and coordination, it excercises the creativity of the brain – and offers enjoyment.

In addition, “art therapy can be used to treat anxiety, depression, and other psychosocial issues that arise from the trauma and disability caused by a stroke.” -Noble Horizons

Look for art projects that appeal to the stroke survivor. If they were interested in needlework before, they can still continue to enjoy that hobby (or work their way back into it). Be thoughtful when choosing craft supplies. For example gel pens may be more pleasant to use than colored pencils. Look for adaptive aids to hold pencils, paintbrushes, etc.

Bob Ross Paint with Water

Brain Games - Sticker by Number: In the Garden (Easy - Square Stickers): Create Beautiful Art With Easy to Use Sticker Fun!

One handed crafts for stroke patients

Since many stroke patients experience arm and hand impairments, finding projects that can be done with one hand/arm is challenging. Luckily, there are arts and crafts that can be done with one arm, or made easier with adaptive tools:

Nurge Adjustable Embroidery Table Stand, Cross Stitch Hoop Stand for Lap or Table Top Cross Stitch or Tapestry , Embroidery Hoop Holder. Hand Polished Natural Wood 190-3 ( Rod 30cm )

Special Supplies Long Foam Pencil Grips for Kids Adults Colorful, Cushioned Holders for Handwriting, Drawing, Coloring | Ergonomic Right or Left-Handed Use | Reusable (12)

If your stroke patient enjoyed woodworking, they can still get back into their hobby. Consider hobby “helpers” such as a vise to hold things on a work bench. A utility belt can hold tools while they more easily switch to another tool.

Stroke patient enjoying a craft project with her grandkids.
Stroke patient enjoying a craft project with her grandkids.

Christmas and birthday gift ideas

It’s important that special occasion gifts are not focused on the disability. The stroke patient will want to be treated as a normal human. Get them a Christmas or birthday gift that has nothing to do with having a stroke. The last thing they need is to be reminded of their condition!

For Christmas, bring in a miniature decorated Christmas tree. Christmas-themed plant gifts add cheer to a room. My aunt recently recovered from a stroke and I dropped off a cute floral arrangement in a Santa mug. Similar ideas work for Kawanzaa or Hanukkah fun, too!

For birthdays, add an addition to whatever it is they like to collect. A woman may appreciate a gift of attractive clothing or jewelry. If they have a favorite hobby, do buy something that will help them to continue projects. Here would be a time to bring in some type of adaptive aid.

Gifts that help the stroke survivor do something they love should be well received.

As mentioned earlier, vises and special tools can help a woodworker continue his hobby. Now might be the perfect time to start them in a new hobby. They might appreciate the help in researching something they want to learn more about.

The gift wrap up

Strokes are a difficult experience to go through. It will take lots of love and support from family and friends to recover. I wish you well on your journey, as each one is unique.

This article is dedicated to my mom. Love ya, mom! – Renee

Renee Cavvy
Renee Cavvy

Renee pulls no punches when it comes to challenging the social norms of gift giving. Her mission: putting an end to meaningless gifts and cutting through the fluff. This midwest mom offers novel and creative ideas to do gift giving better!