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Brain Injury Alliance of Arizona Blog

The Top 5 Date Nights for Brain Injury Survivors

By Christina Eichelkraut

Dating as a brain injury survivor comes with its own unique set of challenges. On top of all the challenges modern dating introduces, romantic dynamics involving brain injury often include physical, mental or psychological issues that must be navigated with care, patience and, most importantly, love.

Here at the Brain Injury Alliance of Arizona, we’ve seen some incredible and inspiring love stories. Stories of summoning the personal courage to “get back out there” post-injury and heart-melting experiences of awe-inspiring devotion.

Romantics at heart, BIAAZ even has a romantic relationship support group specifically for romantic relationship support.

Still, most relationships begin with dating, and dating should be fun! So if you’re a brain injury survivor who’s twitterpated over someone special, we’ve got a list of ideas for that perfect first date.

The Top 5 Date Nights for Brain Injury Survivors

By Christina Eichelkraut

Dating as a brain injury survivor comes with its own unique set of challenges. On top of all the challenges modern dating introduces, romantic dynamics involving brain injury often include physical, mental or psychological issues that must be navigated with care, patience and, most importantly, love.

Here at the Brain Injury Alliance of Arizona, we’ve seen some incredible and inspiring love stories. Stories of summoning the personal courage to “get back out there” post-injury and heart-melting experiences of awe-inspiring devotion.

Romantics at heart, BIAAZ even has a romantic relationship support group specifically for romantic relationship support.

Still, most relationships begin with dating, and dating should be fun! So if you’re a brain injury survivor who’s twitterpated over someone special, we’ve got a list of ideas for that perfect first date.

#1 — The Botanical Gardens, Phoenix Zoo, OdySea Aquarium, or Phoenix Art Museum

 

Why we love it: Fatigue and being overwhelmed with stimulus are common issues brain injury survivors face.

These locations, however, let the brain injury survivor go at their own pace and leave whenever they need to. The many seating areas scattered throughout these locations are a perfect place to sit and take a break.

Though this may seem like an accommodation, it’s actually a great chance to get to know one another with a quiet chat. No need to scramble for something to talk about, either, since you’ve both just seen some pretty cool stuff.

On a practical level, each of these venues is pretty accessible for anyone using a mobility assistance device, whether a cane, wheelchair or walker. Finally, all four locations have door-drop public transit options, so the perfect date is a bus or light rail ride away.

How to make it happen: No doubt, these places can be a bit spendy, especially for brain injury survivors dealing with medical or legal costs and debts.

Fortunately, all of these places can be visited for free using a Phoenix culture pass.

Some locations have “free” or reduced fare days each month. The Botanical Garden offers free admission every second Tuesday of the month for its Community Day. The Phoenix Art Museum has a Free-to-See program that includes Pay-What-You-Wish Wednesdays.

#2 — THE CLASSIC:
Go to a Movie (Brain Injury Survivor Style)

 

Why we love it: There’s a reason BIAAZ hosts movie trips. Movies are set for a pre-determined time period, so they’re easy to plan ahead of time.

But movies are picture-perfect for a more cozy, intimate outing, too.

It’s a shared activity that relieves the pressure of constantly having to be “on.” Movies also provide a fantastic segue into great-to-know-you questions afterward (ice cream, anyone?).

After all, some of the best rom-coms start with a future couple that starts out on opposing sides, so one person loving the flick when the other person hates it may be just the kind of spirited discussion that leads to sparks flying.

How to make it happen: Movie theaters are very disability-friendly as a general rule. If you require a closed captioning device or want to cut down on screen time by skipping previews, you can contact the theater’s customer service desk in advance. Or, you can wear sunglasses during the movie to reduce light, earplugs to dampen the noise or a big, comfy sweater to offer physical comfort and cushioning.

#3 — Picnic in the Park

 

Why we love it: This date couldn’t be easier or less stressful. Whether you’re watching the ducks at Papago Park or spreading a blanket on the lush grass at Steele Indian School Park, all you need to do is bring yourselves.

Many parks have beautiful ponds to meander around or quiet, shady spots to sit and people-watch. You can bring board games and books. Or, just use your phones to create a playlist of epic tunes together. Parks all have accessible walkways and some also have community centers if you need to go indoors for a bit.

Too hot to be outside: Pffft, that can’t stop you! A living room picnic in front of a TV fireplace can be just as romantic as sitting by a lake if you want it to be.

How to make it happen: This is totally up to you, but here are some good guidelines to help you start planning your perfect picnic date.

First, decide if you want to eat and what. This doesn’t have to be fancy, expensive or homemade, but if you’re eating outdoors, you’ll want to consider self-contained, handheld foods like tacos, wraps or even pizza. After all, there’s no rule that says a picnic has to be a cheese-and-wine charcuterie plate.

Seating is important, too. If you don’t want to use the park benches, be sure you and your date have a camp chair or a big enough blanket for both of you.

Most city parks are directly on public transit lines, but bathrooms and amenities like tennis courts do close, so be sure to check transit schedules and park hours ahead of time.

#4 — Bowling

 

Why we love it: For years, BIAAZ had a huge Bowl for Brain Injury fundraiser. In addition to being a blast for both survivors and their caregivers, it showcased a great activity for brain injury survivors.

Bowling is accessible and can be done from a wheelchair or with many physical limitations. It also offers a way to talk but also kind of take a break from each other while you bowl. And you certainly don’t have to be “good at it” to have a blast!

How to make it happen: Most bowling alleys are by design accessible, but it might be worth it to call ahead if you think you’ll need to reserve a specific lane or want bumpers in the gutters. At some alleys, you can ask to turn off or dim the lights over the lane being used to cut down on sensory stimuli.

#5 — Enjoy a BIAAZ activity!

 

Why we love it: This works especially well if you and your crush are both involved in the BIAAZ activity— it’s happened before, and did we mention we’re hopeless romantics? — but it takes all the planning stress out of it.

We’ve done everything from attending movies and creating acrylic art to pizza socials and field trips. Going to a BIAAZ outing also takes a bit of the pressure off since it’s a group environment. It’s a perfect way to slowly ease into a relationship in a safe environment. Best of all, you’ll be with other people who just get what life with a brain injury is like.

How to make it happen: Visit our website’s calendar to see our next events, sign up for our email list or just give us a call! We always have something going on, whether it’s our monthly game night or a pizza social.

Whatever you and your date end up doing, know BIAAZ is rooting for you!

Christina Eichelkraut is a recovering print journalist who founded Christina Copy Co. in 2011. When her keyboard isn’t clacking, she bakes complex artisan bread, nerds out on political science, uses her fountain pens to write to pen pals the world over, and reads long past her bedtime in a joyful disregard of her alleged adulthood. Christina earned her B.A. in Mass Communications with an emphasis in print journalism in 2006 from Franklin Pierce University.

ABOUT BRAIN INJURY ALLIANCE OF ARIZONA

The Brain Injury Alliance of Arizona (BIAAZ) is the only statewide nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of adults and children with all types of brain injuries through prevention, advocacy, awareness and education. BIAAZ also houses the Arizona Brain Health Resource Center, a collection of educational information and neuro-specific resources for brain injury survivors, caregivers, family members and professionals.

What began in 1983 as a grassroots effort has grown into a strong statewide presence, providing valuable life-long resources and community support for individuals with all types of brain trauma at no charge.

The Brain Injury Alliance of Arizona:

  • Works with Congressional Brain Injury Task Force
  • Houses Arizona Brain Health Resource Center
  • Hosts virtual and in-person support groups for survivors and families
  • Has Statewide Opioid Use Disorder & Cognitive Impairment Response team with peer support, training, and family wraparound services
  • Facilitates Brain Health Advisory Council
  • Manages statewide Help Line: 888-500-9165

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