Some of the best gifts I have received weren't necessarily what I wanted (at the time), but they certainly were what I needed.
I was struggling - RA was having its way with me. It felt like I was in a wet paper bag, without the energy or strength to get out. Thoughtful and well-meaning friends and family observed how I was doing things, or rather, how I wasn't doing things. Thanks to their care, they wrapped up thoughtful gifts that made my life easier.
Sometimes, it's hard to ask for what you need, especially at gift giving times. Share this post with your loved ones and friends who want to get you a gift that says, "I care. I see you struggling. I understand."
Seven things to consider when purchasing gifts for a loved one with rheumatoid arthritis (LOWRA):
1. Develop your listening and observation skills. This is a year-round activity, just as rheumatoid arthritis is a life-long condition. Notice what makes life difficult. Pay attention to the "I wish..." comments. You might just see the perfect gadget, tool or service that can make that wish come true.
2. Tools and gadgets. Look for things that will make life easier. Opening, closing, twisting, lifting - basically things that will augment these actions. Make sure the item is easy to use. If you struggle with it, imagine how much more difficult it would be for someone who is flaring.
3. Services. There are so many options available today. Make your LOWRA feel like an upstairs resident of Downton Abbey by presenting a gift certificate for a housekeeping, car detailing, gardening, meal preparation, or chauffering service. Help ease the daily grind (of joints) that so many people with mobility restrictions experience.
4. Clothing. Light-weight. Easy to zip and button. Take note of the modifications that have been made to the clothes your LOWRA is wearing. Some people have had to exchange buttons for velcro. Are they always cold, or too hot? Do they avoid pull-overs because they can't raise their arms? Maybe you've seen a comfy cardigan or a silky shawl in just the right colors.
5. Jewelry. Lovely to look at and sometimes hard to wear. Fortunately, there's help for that. Ring sizers, gadgets and magnetic extenders to help pinch those clasps on necklaces and bracelets when your LOWRA can't.
6. Your time. A chronic disease such as RA is a robber. Not only does it steal flexibility, strength, energy; it slips away with your LOWRA's sociability. A visit or a trip out may be just the thing to lift sagging spirits.
7. Gift wrapping. Sometimes the gift wrapping is so exquisite that you don't want to unwrap it, and with RA, those beautifully-wrapped gifts may be too hard to unwrap. Do you wonder why? Put some mittens on, then try to unwrap the gift. Mix in pain and you'll understand the challenge your LOWRA might experience. Whoever invented gift bags must have been thinking of people with RA.
For more suggestions, see the list I've created on Gift Ideas for Loved Ones. It's divided upon into the following categories: apparel, auto, garden, exercise and hobbies, home, kitchen, miscellaneous, personal care, pets, and work.
Finally, a word about festivities. The December calendar is usually bulging with activities and events. It is important to realize that your LOWRA may not accept all the invitations you so generously offer. Pain, fatigue, and the need for quiet and rest may trump the opportunity to go a'carolling, sample Aunt Jo's punch, stand under the neighbor's mistletoe, or attend the office party.
Your LOWRA's spirit may be willing, but the body is not. Please don't take it as a snub; instead offer the best of the season - goodwill, healing, and love.
Marianna Paulson is known as Auntie Stress. On her website, you'll find links to her two blogs, Auntie Stress Café and the award-winning, A Rheumful of Tips. She also publishes a mostly monthly newsletter - The Connective Issue. Sign up on her website to receive information, tips, and to learn about giveaways.
Published On: November 06, 2014