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Whether it’s for Christmas, Hanukkah, Mother’s Day, birthdays, or just because you want to make someone smile, there’s always an occasion to give gifts. But what if you want to give a gift to someone who is dealing with a disability or chronic illness? I mean sure you can always give them an air fryer if they don’t already have one, but what if you wanted to do something more? What if you want to give a gift that acknowledges and even helps with their chronic illness or disability?
This gift guide is here to help!
In this guide you’ll find suggestions for gifts that are unique and useful for your friends, family, loved ones, or anyone you know who might have a chronic illness or disability. These are things that speak to the needs that come with chronic illness or disability while not being, well, boring.
Because here’s the thing: most gift guides out there for people with disabilities or chronic illness suggest things like canes, or bed lifts, or wheelchair decorations. And I’m not saying those things are bad! But in terms of giving gifts it’s kind of like giving someone a vacuum cleaner: yeah if they want one and put it on their wish list that’s fine, but if you’re giving it to them unasked you’re risking giving something they won't like or use.
This is especially true with things like mobility aids or things to add to wheelchairs. People’s medical needs and comfort levels are different. If the person you know has told you they want a certain kind of cane or wheelchair bag as a gift, go for it! But if you know the person well enough to have that information, you wouldn’t be looking at a gift guide on the internet now would you?
The other issue with gift guides for disability or chronic illness is that they can sometimes be too condition specific. For example, a bottle opener for someone with arthritis or other hand issues is great, but isn’t as useful for someone whose chronic illness is dealing with migraines.
So for this guide we’re using the following criteria:
- Does it apply to a wide variety of disability or chronic illness types?
- Does it apply to a common set of disability or chronic illness needs?
- Is it something that would make the person getting the gift go “Oh cool! I totally needed that!” or even “Awesome, I didn’t even know that was a thing!”
If so, it’s on the list. Let’s get started.
Thoughtful and Fun Gifts for Those With Disability or Chronic Illness
Most of us with chronic illness or disability need to take pills on the regular. This pill box and water bottle combination is a great way to make sure you have what you need on the go: your medication and water to drink it down with. This is definitely one of those gifts that will get a happy “I didn’t even know that was a thing!” reaction when you give it.
Multiple conditions and even medication side effects can interfere with someone’s ability to remember if they took a dose of medication when they were supposed to. These pill bottle caps will do a countdown starting from the last time they were opened so that you or your loved one never has to worry if they have or are about to miss a dose.
If you’d like to get even fancier, this 28 day automatic pill dispenser will handle remembering all the doses they need to take for nearly a month. What I like about this model in particular is that it can be set for different kinds of pill schedules, so that someone who only needs to take pills once a day can set it for their needs, someone who needs twice a day can set it for theirs, and so on.
If there’s one thing those of us with disabilities and chronic illness need to do more often than most, it’s try to rest. These sleep headphones are great for letting you listen to music, podcasts, streaming movies, or anything else while lying down. I have one myself and can vouch that they are comfortable even if you’re a side sleeper like me. The headphones also double as an eye mask if you need to block out light while you’re resting.
Weighted blankets are helpful for a host of needs from muscle aches to anxiety. They’re also the kind of thing that can be hard to treat yourself to (um, so I’ve heard). This blanket has the benefit of both the weight and for not being too hot, which is especially useful for those whose conditions make them heat sensitive.
Whether you’re in bed or on the couch, a lap desk is helpful for making it easy to still use a laptop, write, watch something on your phone, and more. What I like about this particular model is that you can set it to two elevations, which makes it useful both for your lap and for raising it high enough to see monitors if you’re using it to prop up your phone or tablet while you’re lying down.
When you’re snuggled up under that weighted blanket with your phone or tablet propped up on that desk, how do you change the video or the volume without getting out of your comfy spot? Enter this remote control ring. It’s compact and easy to fit in your hand and lets you control all the basics you need for your entertainment without having to stand or leave your blanket. TikTok loves it so that’s got to mean something, right?
Speaking of things to help turn your phone into more than just a doomscrolling device, this wireless game controller makes it easy to play all kinds of games on your phone and not just CandyCrush over and over. Great for both when you don’t have the energy to get out of bed but also for when you’re stuck in a waiting room for hours and hours. (Just remember to use your headphones so you don’t bother the other patients!)
If there’s one thing folks with chronic illness and disabilities need to do, it’s take a lot of notes. This Rocketbook Smart Resuable Notebook has the advantage that you use it the same way that you do a regular pen and paper notebook, but once you’ve written things down you can easily sync them to whatever cloud service you prefer, be it Google Drive, One Note, Dropbox, and more. You then erase the page and start over. The great thing about this is that you don’t have to change your actual note taking methods but you get all the advantages of saving your notes somewhere safe and making them easily accessible to any loved ones involved in your healthcare. It also means knowing all your notes are in one place and not scattered over multiple notebooks and systems. This comes highly recommended by all my friends who use it.
If your loved one likes to read, consider getting them a Kindle Paperwhite. It has many accessibility advantages, such as being lighter weight and easier to hold than a regular book, plus it has the ability to change font sizes to help with visual issues. The lack of screen glare is also helpful for those who have vision sensitivities, such as migraines. Plus you can fit an entire library into a single device. What’s not to love?
If you feel like going a little fancier than the Kindle Paperwhite, try an Amazon Fire tablet instead. It has all the advantages of the Kindle plus it allows watching movies and TV shows, playing games, and more. All of which is very useful when you’re on bed rest and/or recovery. Just be mindful that the screen is glossy so if they have issues with light possibly reflecting in their eyes this might not be the way to go.
One thing that folks with disabilities and chronic illnesses tend to do a lot is go to the hospital. Sometimes that’s planned, sometimes it’s not. Either way it’s useful to have a bag that can hold all the necessities and can easily be grabbed on the go. This bag is stylish looking and has the benefit of being on wheels so it doesn’t require any lifting. (Ignore how the listing says “for women” it’s got unisex design options.)
It’s a great idea to pack that hospital bag with things you might need while you’re stuck in the ER. To that end this portable charger bank is very handy. It holds hours of charge, can be used on multiple types of phones (iPhone and Android), and can even charge more than one phone at a time. Great for both the person who had to go into the hospital and any caregiver who came with them.
Trips to doctors and hospitals can take up hours and hours and HOURS of time that can often end up with you staring at the walls. To say nothing of when you’re stuck at home on bed rest. This set of fidget toys isn’t just good for people who need to do some form of stimming. There’s options in here like a Rubik’s - er, I mean speed cube and a maze puzzle to help stave off any boredom if you’re stuck in a place with no signal.
They’re popular for a reason. Coloring books can be as easy or as complex as you feel like making them, which makes them a good and comforting activity no matter what your energy or concentration levels. This one has inspirational messages to help keep someone going, but depending on how well you know your loved one you might find they would prefer…
…something a little more frank. Hey, dealing with disability and chronic illness is frustrating. Sometimes we need to let that out somewhere. Why not in a way to distract ourselves while we’re stressed?
If you give coloring books you should probably give some colored pencils to go with them. Arrtix brand is known for being an affordable price point while still being of good quality. An excellent set for someone who is just getting into coloring. It gives them lots of options without frustrations (like frequently broken pencil tips, which some brands are notorious for).
Now if you want to go big you can get them a Caran d’Ache set, which are basically the Rolls Royce of colored pencils - with the price tag to match. (Hey, I don’t know your budget! Maybe you wanna impress somebody!) If you want to treat your loved one to a higher quality set without totally breaking the bank though, there’s always this Caran D'ache Luminance Colored Pencil Set of 20.
Whether you’re stuck at the hospital or stuck at home, you need variety. This gift box offers a ton of options for entertainment once streaming movies and video games doesn’t cut it. It’s also accessible for people who have vision problems. Another thing of note is that it doesn’t have anything in it saying “Get well soon!” which a lot of these types of gift boxes tend to have. Don’t send someone with a disability or chronic illness something that says “get well soon.” We won’t. That’s the point. Stick with a box like this which understands.
When in doubt, go with a gift card. Whether it’s for somewhere specific like Amazon or a more generic one like Visa, you can’t go wrong with money. Especially since folks dealing with disability and chronic illness tend to have high expenses and limited income. Gift cards let them either buy something they really need or something they’d really like without having to worry about breaking the budget. Plus gift cards always come in the right size.
Bonus: Audible Gift Membership
I'm not including this in the 20 because I consider a monthly subscription more of an ongoing gift than it is a one and done thing like everything else on the list. But you can buy gift subscriptions to Audible for other people. Handy if your loved one is a podcast or audiobook lover (and would go great with those headphones mentioned earlier!)
And that’s it. Hope it helped, and happy gift giving!