Gift giving is a challenge, no matter who you’re shopping for. However, when it comes to shopping for a loved one who lives with a chronic illness, things can get even trickier.
As someone who has lived with chronic illness most of my life, I know how hard it is to ask for things from people who already give us so much. So in honor of my birthday week, I’m updating a blog post I wrote several years ago about gifts a chronically ill person would love. Take notes and prepare yourself to be a gift-giving ninja!
1. A Year of Cleaning Services
Cleaning is physically challenging and takes coveted energy that could be used to spend time with family and friends, work, run errands, or do something fun. Many chronically ill people don’t have extra money to hire someone to clean or we feel guilty because we can do it, but we’d rather spend our precious energy on more important things. A clean house can lift spirits and improve health. If you want to win at gift-giving, give the gift of a clean living space.
2. Gift Certificates
Between high medical bills and lack of work due to not feeling well, there isn’t much money left for fun. Take away your loved one’s guilt of spending money on fun things by giving them a gift certificate for one of their favorite places. Book stores, local coffee shops, movie theaters, or restaurants would be wonderful places to start with. Maybe even gift them a massage or a gym membership if that’s something they would enjoy and also benefit them physically.
An extra bonus is that when you purchase a gift card, local businesses will receive some much needed funds that will help them survive the Covid-19 shutdowns. It’s a two-for-one gift – to your friend and to a local business.
3. Fun Pajamas or Lounge Pants
Let’s face it – peopel with chronic illness spend a lot of time in pajamas and comfy clothes. Fun, comfortable pajamas or lounge pants are exciting and make a bad day just a little bit better. When pajamas and comfy clothes start to wear out, they lose a lot of their softness and aren’t as cozy as they should be, but they’re expensive to replace. This gift of comfort and cuteness will be greatly appreciated!
4. A Fancy Bed
If you have the money to spend on a big gift, a fancy bed is just the ticket. Depending on what illness your loved one lives with, a good bed could go a long way when it comes to improving their quality of life. The options are endless these days: memory foam mattresses, adjustable beds, air, gel, water… the list goes on and on. *Note: consult your loved one before you purchase to find out what would be the most helpful for them. They need to be in on this gift!
5. Stuffed Animals
When you don’t feel well, sometimes you just need something soft to cuddle. You can’t be with your loved one 24/7 so get them a cute little stuffed buddy to keep them company while you’re away. Make sure it’s extra soft and cuddly! For my birthday one year my friend Erin made me this awesome build-a-bear. Dream Rider is decked out in authentic Harley-Davidson gear and she’s one of the most unique, personalized, and fun gifts I’ve received.
This one can get tricky because many people who live with chronic illness have dietary restrictions. Find out what your loved one enjoys and give the gift of food. Maybe it’s chocolate bars and ice cream, or something a little healthier like freezer meals. Gift certificates to places that deliver are also a great option.
7. Lawn Care
Like cleaning the house, caring for a lawn can be difficult. Giving your loved one the gift of mowing their lawn, weeding the garden, raking leaves, or removing snow are creative and practical gifts that will be greatly appreciated.
8. Permission to Call or Text Anytime
You’ll never know what this gift will mean to your loved one. Many chronic illnesses come with insomnia. Some live with depression. Long sleepless nights are hard and sometimes dark thoughts come. Just knowing that someone is available anytime and for any reason is more than a gift – it’s love.
9. Craft Supplies and Hobbies
Does your loved one enjoy doing crafts or have another creative outlet that helps them get through hard days? Help them out by purchasing some of their favorite supplies. Canvases, paints, yarn, fabric, journals, fun pens or markers, adult coloring books, puzzles, books to read… you get the idea! Fun, relaxing hobbies can help relieve stress. Picking out craft supplies or fueling a favorite hobby will be fun for you, while providing hours of fun for your loved one. If you’re not sure what they enjoy, don’t be afraid to ask so you can get it right!
Chronic illness can be lonely, especially if the person who is ill lives alone. Take a day to spend with your loved one. Offer to take them on an adventure. Even if it’s just a drive, it will be wonderful for them to spend time with someone and get out of the house or apartment. If your loved one is feeling too sick to go out, bring them a favorite meal and then stick around to watch movies or play a game together. There’s nothing like the gift of time.
If your loved one has children, giving the gift of childcare is the perfect gift. Offer to watch the kids one day or night a month (or every week if you’re feeling extra generous), freeing them up to have some alone time, take an uninterrupted nap, go out with a friend, or whatever their heart desires. If you want to be the friend they go out with, gift the gift of hiring a babysitter!
12. Real Mail
It doesn’t matter if your loved one lives next door or across the world, getting real mail from you would be so much fun! Send a card (but not a “get well soon card” as those living with chronic illness probably aren’t going to get well soon and that’s hard to read). Write a real letter, mail a fun care package, or order one of those fun subscription boxes where they get something new in the mail each month. Subscription boxes are the gift that keeps on giving!
So there you have it, twelve gifts a person living with chronic illness will love that will make you a gift-giving ninja! #chronicillnessTweet
If you live with chronic illness, what things would you add to this list? Have you ever given or received one of these gifts? Tell me about it in the comments!
Until next time,
“The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed; those who help others are helped.” ~Proverbs 11:25