Gift Ideas for People with Chronic Illness and Disabilities
If you are shopping for a loved one with a chronic illness, long-term illness, or disability, you may feel unsure of their needs, wants and special daily circumstances. Here are a variety of gift ideas meant to inspire, comfort, entertain, and are still appropriate for someone who is mostly confined to their home or uses a walking aid, if applicable. Here are several gift ideas along with advice and links to help you shop!
*Starred shops are run by disabled sellers.
Streaming video allows your chronic friend to watch movies and television any time instantly from anywhere. Especially on those bad days when doing nothing but resting is the best and only option, distraction therapy like settling in to watch great movies and television is a wonderful gift they will certainly thank you for. Netflix, Amazon Prime, or Hulu Plus are a few of the most popular video streaming subscriptions, and they all cost about $100 per year. The Amazon Prime subscription also allows access to a wide variety of ebooks, audio books, and music, alongside streaming video.
The Amazon Prime 2-day shipping feature is an great option for anyone who has trouble getting to the shops. In certain areas, Amazon has rolled out Fresh, a grocery delivery service which is another fabulous gift subscription.
An audio book subscription to Audible is a sweet gift in my opinion! If your loved one is like so many of us with chronic illnesses, reading becomes a tricky task due to blurry eyes, migraine headaches, brain fog, and more. Audio books can make reading enjoyable once again. It may or may not be on my Christmas list this year (hint dropped!).
If your friend is artistic, check out these artists’s monthly subscription boxes which include items to inspire any artist or crafter. There are also subscription boxes especially made for people who enjoy essential oils, teas, faith-based boxes, a wide variety of culinary box subscriptions, and just about any interest your loved one has, there are now boxes of goodies waiting to be delivered to her door!
I receive a monthly subscription box filled with fancy little items I would never buy for myself in a million years, and I feel utterly spoiled by my sister who gifted it to me every single month when the beautiful box arrives! Even if I’m feeling sick and and in severe pain that day, I will take a moment to peek inside of my special delivery, and send photos or a little video to her. She looks forward to the monthly videos, also.
*There are now new chronic illness subscription boxes which were launched last year made by chronic illness warriors themselves. I predict they will be a huge hit this Christmas!
To relax those sore muscles, give your loved one the gift of luxury bath products. There are a variety to choose from online and in stores from very inexpensive to extremely high end.
The Karen Co. (as featured above) mixes small batches of fragrance free, chemical free, detergent free, essential oil free bath products for sensitive folks like myself. This pack of bath bombs is only $4. Unfortunately many with chronic illness are hypersensitive, so we miss out on beautiful bath products and opt for the most basic we can find, often resorting to sensitive baby products. This shop is special because it offers beautifully packaged bath salts, pure charcoal soaps, milk and oatmeal baths without the irritating additives.
Research shows that Epsom salt bath soaks detoxify the body, help re-hydrate muscles, help relieve sore muscles, aches, cramps, and spasms due to the high magnesium content. Salt baths can also be helpful for headaches and migraine pain. [Please keep in mind that not everyone with a disability is physically able to soak in a bathtub, and added fragrances may be intolerable.]
This fuzzy heating pad by Sunbeam sits around the neck and shoulders delivering 4 settings of pain-soothing heat. Ahhh… It is subtly weighted with mild magnets so you can move around or sleep without the heating pad slipping off. I personally have owned the gray leopard print, and the beige; they get plenty of use- especially during the colder months. Even though it is made to fit securely around the neck and shoulders, I use mine wherever I need heat. Currently, on Amazon for $37.49. Find other heating pads, heating blankets, and heated mattress pads here on Smile.Amazon (Amazon Smile donates a portion of your purchase to a charity of your choosing.)
If you have a loved one who appreciates laughing in the face of his or her ailment, this note card stationary set will certainly be the best medicine this holiday! Artist, Eliza Stein depicts medication growing from plants in the style of vintage botanical illustrations. Featured here is a set of blank stationary for $16. Whether your loved one enjoys mailing notes to his/her friends or would prefer hanging these up on their wall to admire, these note cards will suit their quirky sensibility. Personally, I enjoy sending snail mail to friends and I’m always on the lookout for unique stationary. I’m just in love with this tongue in cheek medication art, aren’t you?
The year after I was diagnosed with chronic pain in my leg, my hands began cramping so badly I had trouble typing at work and using a pen to write or draw. For Christmas, my mother gifted me knitting lessons. It was a fun private lesson, and at 23, I knew how to knit! Even better, it helped my hand cramping and dexterity issues as I continued working at it over time, and the craft gave me another distraction from my pain. Over the years, I’ve learned that I am far from alone in my chronic crafting, as people with long-term illness often utilize the arts as a top-tier coping mechanism.
This holiday, consider giving your loved one lessons for jewelry-making, scrap booking, quilting, music lessons, or photography classes. Encouraging them to get in touch with their inner artist could change their lives. If they are homebound, instead consider an art set for them to try at their own leisure.
(If you are a disabled artist or crafter, visit our Facebook art therapy group: Chronically Inspired.)
If the individual you are buying for uses a wheelchair, electric scooter, crutches, cane or walker on a regular basis, try to keep mobility in mind as you shop. However, try not to focus only on buying items revolving around their walking aid. While a funny personalized “Hotwheels” license plate for their scooter or a bag attachment for their walker would be super cute and thoughtful additions to your main gift, some may also feel their disability has overshadowed how others see them.
That said, the future is here everyone! There are tons of assistive accessories for the disabled shopper today! Stocking stuffers are a perfect place to add handy ergonomic gadgets to help in the kitchen, car, tool shed, bed, or at work, like these geek-chic items linked here.
The phone holder attachment featured above is one I can personally vouch is incredibly cool and convenient. No more arm/wrist/hand pain being exacerbated from holding my mobile, and no more losing my phone! This particular model stays put, and the sturdy arm doesn’t droop over time: $16.53 on Amazon.
As long as you include those personal touches, they will know you still see the amazing person they are and always have been.
Here are a few more stocking-stuffer ideas I couldn’t resist sharing with you: Antique and personalized Pill Boxes, fun socks by *johnscrazysocks.com, or create your own completely unique blanket, bag, or shirt, at Zazzle.com
*Chronically Divine Chronic Illness Pins featured above in the adorable photo of her one-of-a-kind Spoonie-Corn pin! Use coupon code FREESHIPPING5 through December 2018. Thanks for the coupons, Chronically Divine! The owner has also launched a chronic illness health app, you can check it out here: spoonielivingapp.com
I know exactly what you’re thinking, “I’m so lucky to live in a time when adult unicorn onesies exist!” 😉
Almost every animal, mythical creature and superhero is available as one-piece pajamas on Ebay, Walmart, and Amazon. Anyone with a chronic illness has “pajama days” (otherwise known as bad flare days), when we like to wear our most comfy clothing.
Since my pajama days are every day, I personally prefer extra soft clothing items which can pass for both casual wear and sleep wear. For example, instead of a robe, I’ll wear a long soft-knit sweater; instead of stretchpants…nevermind, who am I kidding, I love my stretchy pants!
Whatever cozy item you find, please make sure your friend can wash it easily in the washing machine! For more fun and fabulous loungewear clothing ideas and links, check out my article, Pajama Chic.
You might think a pet gift doesn’t count, but our pets are our partners in crime and help take care of us when we don’t feel well (which is all the time). Give your loved one a gift for their pet and watch their eyes twinkle brighter than the Christmas tree!
Some suggestions are: a fancy print or sports print dog collar embossed with name, address and phone number like these quiet collars at Pup Panache. These jingle-free dog collars are perfect for anyone with migraines or headache disorders, by the way.
This cotton doggie backpack/carrying satchel from OneTigris would be an excellent gift for any helper-dog, service dog, or emotional support pet on the go. Or, commission a portrait of your friend and their furry bestie by contacting a professional portrait artist or pet photographer.
This past year, I gifted my sister time with a local dog whisperer for her birthday! If you look online, and get creative, you will find some interesting pet/owner bonding activities in your area.
Monthly Subscriptions and Gift Certificates
Most people with chronic illness have regular “down periods” in which we can struggle to do simple tasks, and even our closest friends won’t know about it. Giving the gift of practical resources shows you care how much your friend’s life is affected by their condition.
Consider a subscription to a house cleaning agency, lawn care service, gift cards to restaurants that deliver, baby sitting agency, dog walking service, or a gift certificate to a hair salon to use on a day your loved one needs extra help caring for her hair. Some salons will even send a hair dresser out to a person’s home if they are nearby. Pharmacies, grocery stores, and online delivery services like Amazon’s Fresh and Instacart are perfect spots for gift cards (not all areas apply).
If you’re short on cash, but you still want to give the most memorable gift of the season, make them a coupon book of the tasks and chores you’re happy to help them with this year! This wonderful article written by a breast cancer survivor gives insight into how friends can make a big difference during a health challenge by offering to help with the smallest things.
They come in everything from funny coffee mugs to inspiring apparel. Awareness gifts can share hope, sport a ribbon, or include information about your loved one’s condition. Every girl loves receiving jewelry, and if she can feel empowered at the same time, big win!
To shop more stores and items by disabled entrepreneurs, read this awesome article by my friend at Lifeinslowmotionblog.com.
Remember, the shops listed in this article with an asterisk * are run by our disabled or chronically ill sisters and brothers.
Do’s and Don’ts
-I would stay away from giving an herbal supplement or vitamin on a gift-giving occasion. Likely, your friend already has a daily medication and supplements program approved by his/her doctor.
-Books aimed at “healing” or promising wellness are usually a no-no, especially if you are not also chronically ill or disabled yourself.
-When buying shoes or slippers as gifts, be aware that many people with chronic health conditions have “picky” feet. If you do find shoes you believe they will love, do them a favor, pay cash and keep the receipt in case they indeed need to return them.
-Personalize. Just like mom doesn’t always want the spatula and the vacuum she needs as Christmas gifts, we also look forward to receiving fun and thoughtful items (like everyone).
Rest assured, if you are shopping to make your loved one’s life easier, more comfortable, or more enjoyable, they will recognize your compassion above all. We should all be so lucky as to have a friend as considerate and caring as you. Happy Holidays!
Wait! I have 2 more Chronic Illness gift guides for Chronic Pain as well as for Dysautonomia, POTS and CFS. I got a little “wrapped up” with gift ideas this year! What are your favorite “chronic” gifts that you’ve either received or given?
Posted on December 7, 2015, in Disability, Holidays, Uncategorized, Walking Aids and tagged 10 things to buy for a sick friend, arthritis, assistive technology, best gift ideas for shopping, cancer, CFS/ME, Christmas, christmas shopping for disabled people, Christmas shopping guide, Chronic Illness, chronic pain gifts, crps, disabled, fibromyalgia, gadgets for disabled people, Gift Guide, gift ideas, gift ideas for people with chronic pain, Gifts for friends with Migraine, gifts for people with cancer, Gifts for people with Chronic Illness, gifts for people with disabilities, gifts for sick people, Holiday Shopping, holiday shopping guide, Lupus, Lyme, migraine, Multiple Sclerosis, POTS, presents for disabled, presents for people in wheelchairs, rsd, shopping for a friend with illness, shopping guide, Spoonie, stocking stuffer ideas, ten things to buy for a disabled friend, ten things to buy for a friend with cancer, ten things to buy for a friend with fibromyalgia, walking aids gifts. Bookmark the permalink. 17 Comments.