2020 Gift Guide for Chronic Illness and Disabilities
Happy Holidays! I hope this finds you feeling well and looking forward to many healthy tomorrows 🧡
That’s a common greeting between those of us in the chronic illness community, but after the year the world has experienced, I’m happy to share the same well wishes with every single one of you, with a chronic disease and without.
If you’re shopping for a loved one with a chronic illness this year, long-term illness, or disability, you may feel unsure of their needs, wants and unique daily circumstances. Here are a variety of gift ideas at every price point, with images and links to help you find the perfect gift for your loved one.
These suggestions are 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 to help you shop!
*Content is NOT SPONSORED. No affiliate links. These are my unpaid personal opinions and mini reviews, as well as suggestions from our amazing readers.
*Updated for 2020
*Most items are available to be delivered by Christmas
*If you prefer not to read this article in its entirety, then find all gift suggestions are highlighted in blue.
Streaming video allows your chronic friend to watch movies and television series’ 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 movies and television is the gift of entertainment which they will certainly thank you for. Netflix, Amazon Prime, or Hulu Plus are a few of the most popular video streaming services, and they all cost around $100-$125 per year.
Amazon Prime and Hulu plus subscriptions also allow you access to their new Watch Party features, which allow you to stream movies simultaneously with your friends!
The Amazon Prime subscription also allows access to a wide variety of ebooks, and music, alongside the streaming video service. Amazon Prime’s included 2-day shipping feature is a blessing for anyone who has trouble getting out to the shops. Now that Covid-19 demands that high risk individuals like us stay indoors, Amazon’s fast online delivery is a convenient alternative. In certain areas, Amazon has rolled out Fresh, a grocery delivery service which is a fabulous gift option.
Audible is another of Amazon’s subscription services, and quite a thoughtful gift. If your loved one is like so many of us with chronic illnesses, then reading books becomes a tricky task due to blurry eyes, migraine headaches, brain fog, memory decline, trouble concentrating due to pain, etc. Audio books can make reading enjoyable once again. Actually, Audible is also on my Christmas list!
Subscription boxes are everywhere. No matter what your loved one is into, there’s a box for that. We used to subscribe to magazine deliveries, but today, boxes full of goodies are our new favorite subscription.
For instance, if your friend is artistic, check out these artists’s monthly subscription boxes. There are subscription boxes especially made for people who enjoy trying new essential oils, sampling gourmet coffees, tasting international wine, or tea. There are several positive encouraging faith-based boxes, a wide variety of culinary themed box subscriptions, gardening, monthly plants, handmade fair trade artisan boxes, and of course, self care themed boxes would be absolutely perfect for a chronically ill or disabled friend. (Note: when it comes to customizing a subscription box gift, please be aware that your friend may have fragrance sensitivities and/or food sensitivities.)
Just about any interest your loved one has, there are now monthly or seasonal boxes of goodies waiting to be delivered to his/her door!
One year I received a monthly subscription box filled with fancy little items I would never have purchased for myself in a million years. I felt completely spoiled by my sweet sister who gifted it to me. Every single month when the beautiful box arrived, it felt like my birthday all over again. Even if I was having a difficult sick day or if I was in severe pain that day, I would still take a moment to peek inside of my special delivery. I have a feeling she also looked forward to the monthly unboxing videos and pictures I would share with her.
Empowerment Box– by Theresa Collins
See also: chronic illness subscription boxes
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 ranging from very inexpensive to high end.
Wishing Well Candace (featured above) mixes small batches of fragrance free, chemical free, detergent free, essential oil free bath products for sensitive folks like myself. This block of Goat’s Milk hand soap/shampoo/face & body wash is only $7.50. Unfortunately, many with chronic illness are hypersensitive, so we miss out on beautiful bath products and often resort to using baby products. This shop offers a selection of beautifully packaged bath products without the irritating additives. I find that Etsy has the best selection of unscented hypoallergenic bath products and you can easily customize by messaging the seller.
Lume: Unscented All Natural Deodorant- 72 Hour, Full Body odor Protection
Speaking of bath & body, the Gynecologist-created company Lume has exploded onto the scene in the last couple years! It began as a deodorant company, and has been so successful, now they also sell a wide variety of naturally scented deodorants, wipes, and soap- deodorant soap, that is. Their original unscented full-body deodorant cream remains one of my personal favorite unicorn products. I haven’t tried Lume’s bar soap yet, but if they say that their soap also staves off odors for 72 hours, believe it! A woman, man or teen can use the unscented version and it’s easy on anyone with a fragrance sensitivity, it’s unlikely to cause a reaction, as well as being gender neutral. Lume is all-natural and we love a safe deodorant that actually works without all of the added health risks of those old fashioned antiperspirants.
I’m not sure deodorant falls under the “comfort” category, but I’m 100% confident that this fuzzy weighted blanket checks all the comfy sensory boxes! It’s soft and furry to touch, it keeps you cozy warm, it’s visually inviting, and the gentle weighted pressure delivers a boost of seratonin, making you feel safe, secure, and helps calm anxiety.
My long-time hack for sleeping with CRPS hypersensitivity/pain to touch (allodynia) is a well-weighted blanket. A weighted blanket keeps fabrics from shifting around at night and irritating neuropathy. After years of pain-induced insomnia, layering weighted blankets (along with jersey knit t-shirt sheets) helped me find my sleep again. Note: Weighted blankets aren’t for everyone. Even those who share the same condition don’t always tolerate the same products.
If you have a loved one who laughs in the face of 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. If your loved one enjoys mailing encouraging notes to his/her friends or might instead prefer framing these on their wall to serve as conversation starters, these note cards will suit their quirky sensibility. Whether it’s your style or not, you must admit, this tongue-in-cheek medication art is one of a kind!
After I was diagnosed with CRPS/RSD in my leg, both of my hands began cramping up so badly that I had trouble typing at work and using a pen to write or draw. For Christmas, my mother gifted me knitting lessons. We shared a fun private lesson together, and at 22 years old, I joined a weekly knitting circle for age 60+ women. Such fun! Even better than my regularly scheduled Tuesday night knitting fun with the “girls”, I found that knitting was the best therapy for my loss of fine motor control, hand cramping and dexterity issues as I slowly continued working at it. Unexpectedly, the craft was also a welcome 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 and disabilities often utilize the arts as a top-tier healthy coping mechanism.
This holiday, consider giving your loved one the gift of lessons for jewelry-making, scrap booking, wood working, quilting, music lessons, watercolor painting, art journaling, or photography. Encouraging them to get in touch with their inner artist could change their life. Between Master Class subscriptions, zoom courses online, instructional DVD’s available on Amazon and Ebay, and content creators offering streaming classes, NOW is such a great time to help your friend kick off whatever creative hobby they’ve always wanted to try their hand at!
If classes aren’t their thing, consider a pre-assembled set for them to try a project at their own pace.
(If you’re a disabled artist or crafter, visit our Facebook art therapy/art share group: Chronically Inspired)
The phone holder attachment featured above is one I can personally vouch for. No more arm/wrist/hand pain being exacerbated from holding your mobile, and no more losing your phone in your ocean of blankets! This particular model stays put, and the sturdy arm doesn’t droop over time: $23 on Amazon.
Wheelchair blanket poncho- by Wraptwear Etsy
If the individual you’re 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, don’t 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 cute and thoughtful additions to your main gift, one’s walking aid or disability shouldn’t be the focus- at the holidays or otherwise.
That said, there are endless 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, such as these geek-chic gadgets linked here.
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 unique personalized blanket, photo quilt, or t-shirt, at Zazzle.com (Note: personalized Zazzle items take at least one week to arrive.)
Chronically Divine Chronic Illness Pins is featured above in the adorable photo of her one-of-a-kind pins. The lovely creator has several other styles available and she also has first-hand experience, so please don’t hesitate supporting her 🎗
I know exactly what you’re thinking, “I’m so lucky to live in a time when adult Spongebob Snail slippers exist!” 😉
Aren’t they adorable? If you think so, you’ll be happy to learn that almost every animal, mythical creature, food, and cartoon are available in slipper form from retailers like Walmart, Amazon and Ebay.
Anyone with a chronic illness has “pajama days” (otherwise known as bad flare days), when we break out our most comfy clothing.
Instead of pj’s, some prefer extra soft clothing items which can pass for both sleep wear and casual wear at a moment’s notice. For example, instead of a robe, you can throw on a soft kimono, knit poncho, or an oversized sweater. It’s a simple garment over any tank top and stretch pants, but it effortlessly awakens your innermost Stevie Nicks.
Pretty kimonos and oversized knits make beautiful gifts since they come in a variety of styles and price points.
Just like loungewear, bedding is another present your loved one will appreciate! Due to health reasons, we have to spend time laying in bed, resting on the couch or laying/sitting in our wheelchairs. Personally, no matter where I go, blankets and pillows are always on the scene.
I’ve come to view my bedding as an extension of my clothing.
Only you know your loved one and their personal style. If they have traditional fashion, would they love a colorful floral quilt? Do they favor clean minimalist neutrals… you could never go wrong with an ivory knit tassled throw. However, if your friend loves bohemian, global stylings, then a patchwork blanket in jewel tones and rich looking fabrics would be a fabulous choice.
Note: Whatever cozy gift you find, please make sure your friend can wash it easily enough in their washing machine.
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.
A fancy print or sports print dog collar embossed with name, address and phone number like these quiet collars at Cunninghm Design are a great option. These jingle-free dog collars are especially perfect for anyone with migraines, headache disorders, or sound sensitivities.
A handsome leather-looking 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’s furry bestie at Crown & Paw (arrives quickly). These portraits are always a big hit, and the company even became Instagram-famous. You can see why… how cute!
Whether it’s dog yoga, time with a pet whisperer, or homemade treats, if you get creative, you will find some adorable presents for their furry bestie!
Most with chronic illness have regular “down periods” in which we can struggle to do simple tasks, and we usually won’t tell even our closest friends. Giving the gift of practical resources shows that 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 his/her hair. Some salons will even send a hair dresser out to a person’s home if they live nearby. Pharmacies, grocery stores, and food delivery services like Amazon Fresh, Grubhub, 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 that YOU are 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.
To shop stores and items by disabled entrepreneurs, read this fantastic article by my friend at Lifeinslowmotionblog.com 🎗
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 exchange them.
-Personalize. Just like the old cliche goes… mom doesn’t always want the vacuum she may need at Christmas, we also look forward to receiving fun and thoughtful items we don’t always require (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 love above all. We should all be so lucky as to have a friend as considerate and caring as you.
What are your favorite gifts that you’ve either received or given?
Posted on December 14, 2020, in Holidays, Uncategorized and tagged 2020, Christmas, christmas shopping, Chronic Illness, Chronic pain, disability, disabled, Gift Guide, gift list, holiday, illness, Rare Disease, Sick. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.