Brain Injury Support and Information for Oregon & Washington


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Daily Life

Get Organized


Getting Around


Accommodations and Strategies for Optimum Brain Power


These days, going to Safeway with the bright fluorescent lights and thousands of colored boxes of cereal is not what I call “having a good time” -- not even with the addition of Starbucks!


As a BI person with vestibular, vision and, oh yes, cognitive problems, just the size of the door to Safeway is overwhelming. But there is help--we can learn new ways to do the tasks we used to breeze through, or maybe even eliminate some of them.


The first two years I couldn’t even go into a store and find a box of cereal without getting on total overload -- so I found a helpful service that for $12.00  would shop for me and bring the groceries to my kitchen. I found another service that, for a fee, gave me a caseworker to help with physical tasks including cleaning and organizing my home, and putting the groceries in the cabinets. Other BI friends have also found an agency or had friends and relatives that have helped.


You may think that that kind of help is over the top--but I was also recovering from two unsuccessful cervical disc surgeries. Fortunately for me, I was still mobile-- slow, but mobile. Many times, the BI person also suffers from physically debilitating conditions. Whether your problems are physical, cognitive or both, using accommodations should not make anyone feel like a slacker. 


The new section of the website will be focusing on Accommodations. Every person with BI is unique. Some accommodations work for one survivor, while for another the same strategy would worsen their condition. Always check with your doctors when you are making changes to your routine and activities. I hope some of the accommodations will help. The sharings on this page are ideas from many BI survivors who have found ways to make their days a little easier.


Take care,



P.S.: Many of you have already found strategies that you could share. Please email me at so I can pass them on.

Get Organized

Thanks to Debra Jarcho for sending in this article.

 5 Simple Steps to Organize Each Day
by Maria Gracia

Start off each day in an organized way, and you'll get more done than you can imagine. Here are 5 simple steps.

  1. MAKE A TO DO LIST. Make a list of the things you have to do tomorrow, the evening before. Prioritize and organize each item in the sequence that it should be accomplished. Consolidate similar tasks together. When you wake up in the morning, you'll have a clear-cut guide detailing everything that must be done.
  2. BE CAREFUL OF GETTING DIVERTED. Very often, a schedule gets thrown off track due to distraction. If you find that you constantly get off track, get a watch with a timer and set it so it goes off every 30 minutes. Every time it sounds, be sure you're working on what you originally said you would. If you're not, stop what you're doing and get back on schedule. Most distractions are not emergency situations.
  3. CALL BEFORE YOU LEAVE. If you have an appointment during the day, always call to confirm before you leave your home or office. This will ensure that the person you're meeting did not forget about the appointment. Also, if there is going to be a long waiting time, perhaps you can do something else first, before you leave.
  4. CHECK OFF ITEMS AS YOU COMPLETE THEM. Every time you finish something, cross it off your To Do List. This will give you a sense of accomplishment throughout the day.
  5. DO A FINAL CHECK. At the end of the day, take a look at your list. How many items were you able to accomplish? Are there only 1-2 things left undone, or many? If there were just a few undone, simply move them to tomorrow's To Do List. If there were many undone, and you worked diligently on everything all day, then you probably had too many things on your list to begin with. Re-think how much you can possibly do in a given day. Remember, you only have 24 hours, and you should be using a third of those hours to sleep!

Maria Gracia - Get Organized Now!
Want to get organized? Get your FREE Get Organized Now! Idea-Pak, filled with tips and ideas to help you organize your home, your office and your life, at the Get Organized Now! Web site


Daily Life




  1. Get help! Family, friends, partners and public or private agencies can help with the daily chores at home. After two surgeries related to my brain injury accident, I had a local service in the Portland area, Helping Hands, come in to help with laundry and heavy cleaning.

  2. Pick one thing that would make your life easier and concentrate on that. When it is finished and working you can pick something new. Each small success helps you feel less tired and more hopeful.

Give up the image of being a perfect housekeeper and cook,
with ironed laundry and everything in its place!





  1. Avoid large grocery stores, which leave many BI people confused, dizzy and exhausted! Shop in small stores if you can. You may pay a few pennies more, but it will really cut your exhaustion scale.

  2. If you need supplies from a large store, there are several options for this chore. Some, like Safeway, offer online ordering and will deliver. Another store in my area is Grocery Bag.  You may have other options such as friends and family or a grocery service.


Getting Around




  1. Friends and family members can divvy it up between them.

  2. Use special door-to-door public transportation services available in most cities to people with disabilities.  Generally, you need to get an application from the public bus company and have your doctor sign it and send it in. Some services are also available to seniors.


Once you qualify, you need to schedule your ride times in advance.


Expect that you may have to wait for your return ride.


Take a snack or water with you. Sometimes there are a number of riders to be
taken home before you are.

PORTLAND: visit or call TriMet
503-226-0700 to find out about the services they offer.

VANCOUVER: C-Tran provides the C-VAN ParaTransit service. Call
        for an application. There is rider information at

SALEM: call Wheels at 503-763-0953 for an application to use CherryLift.
        Additional info is online at




  1. Consider whether you should get a handicapped card for your car. If you have balance problems, forget where you parked, or have trouble carrying things, this can be a godsend even when your legs work fine. Call the DMV and they will send you an application. Your doctor needs to sign it and it in to DMV. When you get your card, park in handicap zone -- but DON’T FORGET TO PUT THE CARD ON MIRROR when you park. There is a BIG FINE!

  2. Be honest about your abilities, in general and on a daily basis. If you are easily distracted or confused, stay off major streets with a lot of cross-traffic. If you have trouble at higher speeds, stay off freeways. If you have trouble with lights and signs, take public transportation downtown instead of driving. There may be times when you have to drive in difficult conditions, but get off the road or move to side streets as soon as possible. It is safer and less exhausting to go slowly than to pretend you are fine.

  3. Don’t drive at rush hour times. I try to make my doctors’ appointments between 10:00 am and 2:00 pm. This really helps--especially for people with difficult sleep patterns. This schedule not only avoids traffic, but lets me sleep longer if I’ve been up all night or take a nap in the late afternoon.

If you are having a “bad brain day,” don’t drive.




  1. This is the most difficult thing for me since my injury --trying to understand a  form which needs to be filled out can totally overload my brain.

  2. By now, if you are reading this, you may be pretty frustrated and feel defeated.

  3. Give up trying to do alone what you used to do entirely by yourself. You may be able to take more control over your financial and other paperwork later--but accept help now.

  4. Find a patient, left-brained family member or friend to help you get organized and break tasks down into very small doable tasks.

  5. What paperwork you may have:

a.     Medical bills

b.     Social Security, Medicare, etc.

c.     Legal-lawyers

d.     Daily bills

e.     Medical assistance

f.     Real estate or rental

  1. Start a system. The best I could do for the first two years was to put all the mail in a bag on the door. Keep it all in one place even if you can’t figure out what to do with it yet.

  2. Call an agency that has volunteers or can help you for a small fee

  3. Have your income automatically deposited.

  4. Work with someone to set up online banking with automatic payments for your regular bills every month. This will take care of things like rent, mortgage, car payments, utilities, insurance, etc. You NEVER have to worry again about remembering to pay and mail these bills on time.





  1. Put your important identification in a purse or leather/fabric pocket that hangs around your neck. In this put your license, passport if needed, doctor’s card and money. This should always be with you. When you need identification, it is always there.

  2. Have a carry on bag or purse (small) where you have your medication, small address book with doctors and important numbers and a small bag of essentials-like toothbrush, comb, toiletries. Never trust that your suitcase will end up in the same city and the same day that you do. If you have a cell phone, take it.

  3. Pack one small suitcase that rolls I usually check it in unless I need another small one for legal papers.

  4. Packing decisions-Have a friend help you if possible:


Day 1: Put all the clothes and things you want to wear on top of suitcase.


Day 2: Put half of the things back in the closet.


Day 3: Put all the clothes that are left in the suitcase along with other essentials (hairdryer, shaver, gifts, etc.).


Day 4: Weed out some more clothes if there isn’t enough room. Only take things you really like to wear.


Night Before: Close suitcase and put it next to door with everything that that must go with you -- the carry-on bag with your medication and other essentials, your purse, cane, coat, etc.


Everything at the door goes with you.

TRAVELING BY PLANE:   "Airport Angels"


  1. Use a travel agent to help you order tickets and flag them that you are handicapped.

  2. Have someone take you to counter – you may request a wheelchair (assistance) there, or at curbside
    (it goes faster and easier to check in curbside).

  3. When you make your flight reservations, tell them you need airport assistance. They will have a wheelchair and/or an escort meet you at the arrival gate and take you to your next flight, to a cab stand, or to people awaiting your arrival. You can also ask for a wheelchair if one is not waiting for you.

    (Even though my legs work fine, I am often dizzy and confused after a long flight. Wandering around trying to read the flight boards and find my way to the gate for a connecting flight was truly terrifying for me until I found out about this service.)

  4. If you are going to a hotel, tell them that you need assistance to have your bags taken to the room.

  5. If you are exhausted and hungry, see of you can order room service. You can pick something inexpensive, and will cost the same as having to find a place to eat.

  6. Write the number of your room on something you carry with you--you can also take a card at the front desk to help you get back if you lose your way when you venture out.

  7. If you can, have a friend go with you or meet you at your destination-someone who understands your disability, and who has great “adventure skills” and a sense of humor.


Remember: You can ask a lot of people for directions and help
-- none of them will know that you already asked
10 other people before them!



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