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Gifts for People with Parkinson’s Disease and Other Health Monsters – Christmas 2013 Edition

Posted Dec 04 2013 5:25pm

For the past three years, I have compiled a list of ideas for giving gifts to people with Parkinson's disease. It's been a fairly popular post and so this year, I'm compiling all my finds and/or ideas of what to give to someone with Parkinson's disease – or any chronic illness, for that matter. Those who just need a little extra assistance and understanding.

I'll start with the newest ideas first, for those familiar with the gifts and the oldies (but goodies) are tagged on following. And, when you've finished, leave an idea of your own. It may be just what someone else needs (or hadn't thought of!).

First, a reader recently sent in these great ideas (thanks, Muriel !): Muriel's mom loves playing cards but it's difficult for her to hold them… voila!!! An electronic card shuffler and a card holder (hand held plastic or hands free wooden – I like this one). Excellent idea! (Amazon carries a manual card shuffler that gets slightly higher reviews for the same price.)

And, Muriel's other suggestion comes via her mother's Christmas list request – an electric shaver (for men AND women!). Another great idea!!!

Another reader's suggestions: A couple of nice thick terrycloth robes to dry off in when we just don’t have the strength or balance. Satin Pajamas to make turning over in bed so much easier and last but not least, slippers with full backs on them. We should never wear cushiony open back slippers around the house !! (Thanks, Kathy!)

And for the person who LOVES to cook/bake but has PD, arthritis in their hands, etc., how about an electric can opener , a stand mixer so your loved one doesn't have to fight holding something that shakes them more! And, there is a plethora to choose from with just as many colors! Or, lighter baking pans/dishes, an electronic wine bottle opener , knives with rubber/silicone gripping on the handle, soft gripping utensils (to make eating less embarrassing), or ?? Spend some time watching them (unobtrusively of course) in the kitchen and notice what they struggle with to get some ideas. Also, check out Knork utensils for more items.


Got a gardener who loves gardening but finds it harder to do? Check out the ergonomic gardening tools that are available. They feel good in the palm of your hand and you aren't trying to twist your wrist awkwardly to get things done. Give them some seeds/bulbs/potting soil/pots gift basket to go with a tool (or a set of tools!)

Now, for safety's sake: Ice/snow chains for the feet! Whoever came up with these years ago – kudos!!!

Everybody loves a good gift card, but they can often seem so impersonal. Make your own. How about a coupon book that entitles the recipient to a once a month treat. Many people with PD and other illnesses don't get out like they used to. Perhaps they just don't want to, but maybe they just feel alone, forgotten, frightened. Looking forward to an outing/event once a month may just be what they doctor ordered. Some ideas may include: a walk in the park, a movie night (take them out, have them over, do it at their house and – don't forget the popcorn), or a game night (using the new card holder !). Other ideas could be to just go for a ride in the country, along the ocean, a picnic in the car (if it's hard to get to a picnic table). How about a day at the spa where you wash, dry, do their hair/give a facial/manicure/pedicure (or take them for one/all!)?

If you do decide to go with a gift card, iTunes/Amazon are a safe bet. Your 'giftee' can get music, audio books, movies and more. And speaking of techno stuff, have you heard of “ Dragon “? This is software put out for those who struggle with typing and other mobility issues. I have used this and it's pretty cool. Amazon reviewers give it 4.5 out of 5 stars.

You can either make (Simplicity #2822) or shop for this gift: a chair organizer. With the patient feeling less like getting out as their disease progresses (or even up), this is a great idea to keep things close at hand. Along a similar line, a swivel seat cushion is a great asset for home, office, or driving. What an invention! A lazy susan for the toosh!

A 'Flexi-reach' is a patented stick with some grabber thing-a-ma-jig at the end so you don't have to bend over to pick things up. I broke my ribs a few weeks ago and this was a Godsend to have around. I found a little cheap one at the dollar store that worked just fine. For serious use, you might want to dig a little deeper and get one that will last once your grandchildren find it.

If you have Parkinson's or know someone who does and have been shopping with them, you know the frustration they feel when they are not up to par and their fingers refuse to work as they shuffle through their wallet looking for payment. Shop around with them (or without if you know them very well) to find a wallet that will be PD user-friendly.

They are saying that one of the best exercise techniques to hit the Parkinson community is Tai Chi and dancing. How about gifting a membership for a Tai Chi or dancing class or buying a Tai Chi and or dance video? Who knows, maybe they'll come out with 'Tai Chi Dancing'. At the very least, Tai Chi ballet…

There are times I want to sit down to read a good book and push that idea aside for a time, as my fingers don't want to hold a book and if I take control, they'll fight me by cramping up. A Kindle or the likes of a 'reader' is an ingenious idea for people with disabilities or seniors who tire of holding anything heavier than a small paperback. For another idea, try a ' book prop/holder '.

It may seem silly or insignificant, but a night ligh t is more than just an idea for a gift – it's a necessity for someone who lives at home with PD. You don't have to move the furniture to lose your bearings, people who live with PD not only lose their bearings more easily, but their ability to fall is greatly increased and getting up at night without at least a night light is asking for trouble. And there are so many different ones to choose from nowadays, besides the plain old cream colored ones that never wear out. We have the kind that also double as an emergency flashlight.

Speaking of books… Audio books are still around and are a great alternative to a reading tablet or bulky books. Most people have a CD player and their are many great books out there to choose from.It isn't just any old chocolate I'm suggesting… Have you heard of the medicinal benefits of dark chocolate? It's true. It is known to reduce blood sugar levels and possibly improved cardiovascular health. It seems that it may have cancer-fighting properties as well. Since dark chocolate is made from plants, its health benefits could resemble those of someone who is eating dark green vegetables. So, how about a gift certificate to See's Candies or a pound of dark chocolate for your favorite PD'er? Chocolate. DARK Chocolate. It's not just for Valentine's Day anymore.

I was watching a commercial the other day and it was about this gadget called 'the Flex-Stick' walking cane (available at According to the makers, “The flexSTICK provides more dynamic stability and comfort than any other walking stick… [and] is designed with physics and geometry to 'flex' throughout a normal walk cycle, increasing mobility, reducing the risk of falls, and allowing you to walk better. The three shock-absorbing legs maintain constant contact with the ground surface as each leg flexes, providing much more stability and support than traditional walking canes.

Many days a PD'er faces pain and stiffness. So, here's a welcome treat… A massage! Did you know that massages are recommended for people with PD, MS, and other chronic illnesses to relieve the stiffness and help to loosen the muscles? A person with PD is actually encouraged to have a massage twice a month. Back to my broken ribs… It was literally impossible to bend over without intense pain stabbing me in my mid-section, so you must realize it was also impossible for me to take care of my toenails. Thank goodness my husband loves me and treated me to a pedicure to have them done. Believe me – this is a truly welcome gift – Parkinson's patient or not. Same goes for a manicure. It's just a nice treat.

I used to volunteer at an adult daycare at our local hospital. I was comfortable there and actually fit right in. Many of the patients had PD and we just trembled together. I loved that group of people and they seemed to enjoy their days there. Why not check out something in your area for your loved one to go one afternoon a week or so? You will both get a much needed break. Or, if you're a friend of a caregiver, consider this or a similar gift to give your friend a much needed break.

A gift that will give peace and safety to a person with Parkinson's disease? A guide/service dog. They are training service dogs for disabilities never noted before. They have proven to be reliable and irreplaceable in aiding the patient from falling and more. You will rest easier knowing your loved one has someone watching out for him/her at all times. And, they're so doggone cute! (No pun intended.)

Lastly, this is an old favorite that I thank God for each day… an electric toothbrush. Who knew that someday a task like brushing your teeth would be so ridiculously difficult and you'd tear half of your gums out in the process? Give your loved one the opportunity to give thanks for the little things each day too.

What about you? Any ideas or suggestions to add to the list

Journeying with you ~ Sherri


The post Gifts for People with Parkinson’s Disease and Other Health Monsters – Christmas 2013 Edition appeared first on Parkinson's Journey .

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