10 Experienced-Based Gifts for People with Chronic Illnessby Marianna Paulson, B.Ed., B.P.E.-O.R. Patient Advocate
Do you have someone on your gift list who has a chronic illness, such as rheumatoid arthritis or psoriatic arthritis? Consider giving them an experience-based gift that they'll be talking about for many seasons to come. Our homes are packed with more stuff than ever before. A gift of a fun experience helps alleviate the cleaning and organizing headaches that often accompany a physical gift. They can provide a range of benefits from building memories to improving fitness, providing fodder for conversations, preventing isolation, and so much more.
Gifts for the music lover
“One good thing about music: When it hits you, you feel no pain,” said Bob Marley. No pain is a great gift for someone that lives with chronic pain. Consider:
- An evening out to a live show, whether it be in a concert hall, a community center, or a night club. Offer to do the driving.
- A gift certificate to a recording studio that features live performances, or to a site like Ticketmaster.
- Check Groupon and community colleges for voice or music lessons, if you hear an “I wish I could sing/play..."
Gifts for the fitness buff/sports nut
For a large part of my 40 years with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), I was able to participate in a number of physical activities. A well-managed chronic illness doesn't necessarily mean inactivity. Try these gifts:
- Choose from a multitude of community center events, including all types of dance, strength-training, bocce ball, bowling, yoga, even fencing.
- A gift certificate for part of a gym membership.
- Tickets to a sporting event.
- Organize a sporting event for all of your friends and family.
Gifts for the outdoor enthusiast/adventurer
Maybe some adventurous activities are currently out of range for your giftee. Dependent on ability, and the possibility of modifications, there's a rainbow of choices to be made:
- Day pass to a state or national park.
- An elegant weekend glamping.
- Indoor rock climbing lesson.
- Plane simulator. My husband still talks about his birthday gift — a chance to fly a DC10 simulator, which pilots use for training.
- Lessons for scuba, snorkeling, sailing, etc.
- Set up a treasure hunt like geocaching.
Gifts for the ecologist/naturalist
Gifts for the gardener
Gifts for the artist
Whether a seasoned or budding artist, or simply an admirer, you can deepen the experience with these tempting gifts:
- Arrange a visit to your community's art gallery.
- I once purchased acting lessons from Groupon. It was a fun, and yes, sometimes nerve-wracking, experience.
- Whatever the medium, there's a palette's worth of lessons available, either privately, or through a college, or community center.
- Tickets to a juried art show.
- A visit to some commercial galleries. Include lunch!
Gifts for the intellectual
The book lover, the perpetual learner, the scientist, the debater — whatever the interest, there's usually an opportunity for them:
- Get tickets to a lecture series at a university, college, or library.
- Accompany your giftee to an author talk, which is often free.
- Take in an event at a planetarium or science center.
Gifts for the cook/foodie
We all have to eat, and the cook, or foodie, takes great delight in sourcing out, preparing, serving, and eating food. Here are some gifts to drool over:
- Cooking classes that run the gamut from appetizers to desserts, ethnic to organic.
- Chocolate-tasting event.
- Bartending school.
- Farm/orchard/vineyard visit.
- Host a dinner party. After all, it's nice to be on the receiving end.
- Dinner at a restaurant that you know they'll love.
Gifts for the hobbyist/handyman/woman
Some people love to putter. There are light-weight tools available that can make things easier for the person whose mobility may be compromised. Consider:
- Purchasing a session from an occupational therapist who can help them make the most of their abilities. Throw in some arthritis-friendly tools to round out the gift.
- Hiring an expert to spend time teaching a new skill.
- Going on a shopping trip to gather items that the hobbyist/handyman/woman needs for their particular project.
Other gift ideas and final thoughts
Amateur sleuths: Organize a game night, using one of the murder mystery games that are available for purchase.
My friend knew that I couldn't look after my nails post-surgery, so she generously gave me a gift certificate to a spa.
Miniature or historic train trip. A steamboat, sailboat, or Jet Ski ride.
- Listen for hints, desires, and challenges.
- Build a relationship while doing something together.
- Consider transportation requirements, ability, and energy needs.
- Have fun!