Not sure what to get your chronically ill friend or family member for Christmas? Here are a few of my suggestions:
- The gift of time. When you live with a chronic illness things like keeping on top of the housework, or feeding yourself, can take a significant hit. In my humble opinion, the gift of time is a win, win, win. It’s inexpensive for the giver, and yet can be priceless for the receiver. If you’re strapped for cash the perfect solution might be to offer up some of your time; you could help with any DIY that needs doing around the home, give the bathroom a deep clean, or make some meals to shove in the freezer. It’s not the most glamorous present in all the world, but it’s thoughtful, and helpful, and also means you get to spend some quality time together. Having been through periods of low income myself, I’ve often harnessed the resource of my time as a gift – I’ve made babysitting vouchers, offered my flat as a “B&B overnight stay”, and as part of my fiancé’s last birthday I watched a couple of YouTube tutorials and made him a voucher for a home massage. Lucky guy. The possibilities are endless.
- Anything cosy and comfortable. Woolly socks, soft hand warmers, “I could never justify buying this for myself” blankets, fluffy slippers, pretty pyjamas (or “house-wear”, as I call them). Think along these lines and you can’t go far wrong. Cosy and comfortable is always a good bet for someone living with a chronic illness.
- When you’re limited with what you’re able to do, self-care is one of the easiest ways to give yourself a little mental and physical boost. Self-care items can be an indulgence, financially, so it’s lovely to be gifted something that you wouldn’t normally buy for yourself. Scented candles, fancy bubble bath, aromatherapy accessories and essential oils, indulgent skincare and make-up… and if you really wanted to treat your gift recipient, a voucher* for a spa treatment, massage, or fancy hair salon would give them the opportunity to indulge a body that so often fights against them.
- I recently discovered the Releafpack; a soft, essential oil infused icepack. I’m interested in purchasing one for myself, but I can’t yet vouch for it personally – although I have heard very good things on the MS grapevine (yes, that’s a thing). They’re an American company, and I’ve not found anything similar on this side of the Atlantic, but something like this would be a practical, and yet thoughtful and attractive gift for a loved one managing a chronic illness.
- If your friend or family member doesn’t have an entertainment subscription service, a year’s subscription to Netflix or Spotify might be appreciated. I use Kindle and Audible more frequently than I read hard copies of books – it’s so much easier to hold a Kindle device than it is to hold up a book, and listening to a story takes even the effort of reading away. A subscription to a service like this would make an excellent gift (conversely, it’s also worth bearing in mind what wouldn’t make a good present for someone with an illness like MS – long, heavy hardbacks being one thing of note).
- Mobility aids, or mobility aid accessories, if used. Not everyone would appreciate a gift like this, even if they use an aid; this is only advisable if you know it would be well received. Personally, I would love it. To me it not only shows acceptance, but also that there’s nothing wrong or awkward about using a mobility aid. There are some beautiful designs out there, like this walking stick from Top & Derby, the byACRE carbon ultralight rollator, and Ffora wheelchair attachments. There are many other useful aids that someone might benefit from using around the house, from cushioned lap trays and book holders, to perching stools. If you are opting to give something practical, I would proffer the recommendation that you also opt for attractive design. You could even think outside of the box a little bit; as an example, this is an umbrella stand from Made that I use as a stick holder – and there’s nothing remotely “care-home” about it.
So that’s it, a non-extensive list of gift suggestions for the chronically ill in your life. Happy shopping!
*If your loved one has a mobility impairment then you’ll need to check the accessibility of any location – it’s not thoughtful to expect your friend or family member to do this for themselves, or to not consider it altogether. They may not be able to attend otherwise. For bonus gift-giving points provide this information alongside the voucher, and don’t give up if the first place you try isn’t accessible. Remember, your recipient probably has to do this every single time they leave the house. It might even open your eyes a little bit.