If you didn’t get all your holiday shopping done in the annual frenzy that follows Thanksgiving, we’ve got some ideas to help you get creative with gifts for your friends and loved ones that live with chronic illness.
Help them pay to attend a conference
If your friend has a specific diagnosis, see if there’s a conference with others that share it. The Huntington’s Disease Society of America, for example, holds an annual conference each summer. Such gatherings are educational, but more importantly, you’ll be linking your friend to hundreds who share their experience in a way that most never quite can.
Many patient organizations offer scholarships or grants to help pay for the cost. So one option is to see if you can enter your friend as a candidate. If the single diagnosis doesn’t pan out, try searching for general chronic illness associations that hold gatherings. (The Invisible Disability Association holds annual seminars and an awards gala.) Or you can even search your local events or Meetups for something more regional.
Monthly subscription box
Gift subscriptions are the gift that keeps on giving. The mail for people with chronic illness can often be bogged down with doctor bills, insurance mailings, test results or medications. Adding in something to look forward to each month might help ease that particular downer. Pick one that fits your loved one’s personality—this website offers lots of options.
Meal subscription service
Another gift within this category that people with chronic illness might appreciate is a meal subscription box. Planning, shopping for and preparing meals takes a lot of energy—but eating well can have a big impact on how you feel. Meal subscriptions are a great solution. Quite a few of these exist by now so it’s worth checking what dietary needs your friend may have. You can probably find a service to match.
Balance for a rideshare service
When you’re often sick, sometimes you won’t feel like driving yourself to and from tests or appointments. Sometimes you can’t drive because you don’t have the energy or focus or wherewithal. Gifting a balance on a ridesharing app to help is a great way to support a friend who feels that way.
Sensing a theme? Any gift that helps ease the burden of daily essential tasks that take energy is probably a good bet for someone with chronic illness. Helping them out with a few visits from a maid service is no different.
Subscriptions to media
If you just want to give a gift for pure enjoyment, consider a subscription to a news site, magazine or online streaming service. These are things most of us would enjoy. This gift is especially useful if your loved one is short on cash because it’s probably something that they already pay for. So your gift essentially decreases their annual budget.
Relaxation or de-stressing tools
Think Epsom salt, candles, blankets, PJs, an ergonomic pillow, aromatherapy—you get the idea. People with chronic illness carry more stress than those without, so de-stressing contributes to overall wellbeing.
Short on cash? DIY gift ideas
If you’re short on cash, many of these ideas could be accomplished with your own elbow grease or time. Make a nice handmade gift card for rides to appointments, pre-cooked freezer meals, hours of cleanup—or just an evening in with them that they can redeem whenever they need it. Put together a box of surprises yourself and mail it to them each month.
Have any other great ideas? Share them with us on social media.