14 Gifts People With Chronic Illnesses Secretly Want
When someone asks you what’s on your “wish list,” your first instinct may be to list items like clothes, electronics, jewelry and other items that are traditionally given as gifts. But in the back of your mind, you might be thinking of other items you’d actually want more — but because they’re not “traditional” gifts, you might be hesitant to ask for them.
When you live with chronic illness, your priorities might be different from other peoples’, which can make it difficult to admit that you’d really like, say, a gift card to your local pharmacy, rather than that new Apple product everyone’s talking about.
To help you find a gift for your chronically ill loved one, we asked our Mighty community to share the gifts they secretly want, but might not ask for.
We hope the products below, all recommended by our Mighty community members, help you or a loved one in your health journeys. Just so you know, The Mighty may collect a share of sales from the Amazon links on this page.
1. Help Paying Bills
Medical costs add up quickly, and many people in the chronic illness community aren’t able to work or work limited hours. Contributing to expenses like electricity bills, car repairs, landscaping, home repairs and food (or even medical bills themselves!) isn’t necessarily the most glamorous gift, but it might be the one gift your chronically ill friend wants most of all.
“Having chronic illnesses is expensive and sometimes you have to make a choice between upping your heat to stay warm, buying enough food, or getting your medications. We go without something from each of those areas every day/week/month,” Christy Pedraza said.
2. A Cleaning Service
Cleaning can be difficult when you live with chronic pain, fatigue and other physical limitations. A cleaning service will take several physical tasks off your friend’s plate.
“A cleaning service to help deep clean my house. I mean walls, floorboards, tiles in the bathroom. I have dysautonomia on top of an autoimmune disease with two kids under 6. My house is not as clean as I’d like it to be,” said Sophie Vera.
3. Weighted Blanket
The pressure of a weighted blanket mimics the feeling of being hugged, which calms anxiety and helps you sleep.
“A weighted blanket. Been trying to save up by myself but it is impossible on my own. I want to ask family but they would probably have to come together and pool money to get me one,” said Bea Dalbs.
4. Shower Chair
For anyone who deals with fatigue, chronic pain and sensitivity to heat, showers can be a major chore. A chair helps save energy and can make showering less of a chore.
“Showers are the single most exhausting thing, but I can’t just sit and rest without getting out,” explained Michelle Boehrs.
5. A Night in a Hotel
A night away with your significant other or even alone can help you relax and recharge. Even just staying for a night in a local hotel can help you feel like you’re on a mini-vacation.
“A one-night stay in a hotel away from the festivities. With my fibromyalgia and the anxiety that comes with being touched, it’d be nice to be excused from the holidays this year,” said Hope Gunn.
“A weekend stay at a hotel so I can have a mental (and hopefully less stressful) break from things and try to build up some energy and much-needed sleep. I don’t need anything fancy, I’ll take a few nights at a Motel 6. Just need to hit the reset button,” said Samantha Brodeur.
6. Pressure Cooker
A pressure cooker is similar to a slow cooker or Crock Pot, but with one big difference: It cooks meals quickly (even frozen ingredients). Throw in ingredients like meat, vegetables, eggs, rice and more to save time (and energy). Users swear by pressure cookers’ ability to unlock flavors and spices, too.
“Instapot, the big family sized one. This way I can make fast homemade dinners with even frozen meats, when I am not well enough to stand long periods of time to cook a home cooked healthy meal,” Tara Gordon said. “Take-out and delivery are not cost affective when you already cannot work due to chronic illness. Feeding your family healthy home cooked quick meals are important.”
7. Digital Camera
You can give people a glimpse into your world through photography — plus, it’s just fun to take beautiful photos for social media or just for yourself.
“A nice digital camera. My last one was stolen before I got sick. I used to be a pretty good photographer. I would like to go back to seeing the beauty in life, even if it is through tears sometimes,” said Alesa Liles.
8. Soft Clothes
When you live with chronic health challenges and pain, you can never have enough comfy clothes. The last thing you want to do is make yourself feel even more uncomfortable by wearing restrictive clothes, so soft fabrics in styles that still make you feel fashionable are a must.
“Soft clothes or gift cards to places I love that sell soft clothes. I love J.Jill especially for soft things I can wear around the house,” recommended JR Brown. “My skin gets really sensitive, like having a perpetual sunburn, and most fabrics make it worse. So soft things. Socks, pajamas, especially shirts and pants though.”
“I need soft, comfy and cozy leggings, sweaters, hoodies, thermals, etc…. but stuff that is still fashionable and cute. Being homebound and bedridden in haggard old PJs makes me feel so much worse about my situation,” said Sara Ann.
Our picks: Cuddl Duds Printed Flannel Fleece Slipper Boots ($22) and Victoria’s Secret PINK Ultimate Fleece-Lined Leggings ($66.95).
9. Spa Day
A day at the spa is the ultimate luxury, especially when your body is in pain a lot of the time. It’s the kind of gift few would get for themselves, but would love to receive.
“A gift certificate for a massage. My body hurts all the time and my husband doesn’t really like having to be the massage guy all the time,” said Becca Schultz. “It would be amazing to have a spa day bought and paid for so I could focus on just me and my own pain relief for one whole day.”
“A spa day — pedicure, massage, facial… *sigh,*” said Adrian Bryant. “I’m having major surgery the first of January and will be in bed for at least a month afterward with recovery being at least six months. Getting pampered before surgery sounds heavenly.”
10. Electric Blanket
Snuggling under a heated blanket is the ultimate self-care for so many in our community. Plus, heat can actually help decrease pain, in addition to just being cozy.
“An electric blanket and/or a small space heater,” said Sherrie Phelps-Show. “With my chronic pain and fibromyalgia, I need the warmth to keep my body somewhat mobile.”
“Electric blanket! I have my eye on one but it costs more than I would be comfortable asking someone to get me. I’ll probably buy it for myself though!” said Tyler Stagman.
“I want a heated throw. My body doesn’t regulate my heat well so I am cold most of the time. I also have joint and muscle pain, both of which is helped by heat,” said Elisabeth Wheeler.
Our picks: Sunbeam Microplush Heated Blanket ($44.99) and Biddleford Electric Heated Micro Mink/Sherpa Blanket ($58.14).
11. Food and Meal Delivery Service
Grocery shopping and cooking can be absolutely exhausting, but unfortunately, you can’t exactly skip it when you’re hungry and don’t feel well. A subscription to a grocery delivery service or meal delivery service (either fully prepared meals, or ingredients and recipes you prepare yourself) will help a chronically ill friend enjoy healthy meals even during a flare.
Kathryne D. Zeraldo said she’d want a “meal service where they deliver all of the ingredients for your meals to your front door.”
“An easy way to have healthy meals all the time. I work over 50 hours a week, and cooking is the last thing I want to do when I get home,” said Carmelite Dion.
The perfect pillow (or an assortment of pillows) can make a huge difference in how well you sleep. There are tons of different types of pillows out there for a variety of sleep troubles (like neck support, cooling, and body) — check out our community’s top recommendations here.
“I really want a bunch of new pillows and a pregnancy pillow but I’m not going to ask for them,” said Jennifer Ramon.
“A cooling pillow to help with my night sweats. I would give anything for a good night’s sleep!” said Stephanie Anne Valley.
“A full-sized body pillow so I can quit wrestling with the two separate pillows that I currently use for sleep,” added Veronica Hathaway.
13. A Pet
This is definitely a gift you’d want to talk to your chronically ill friend about first, but if they’re willing and able to care for a pet, it’s a gift worth considering. Low-maintenance pets like cats, fish, and many breeds of dogs help stave off loneliness and can be a wonderful source of comfort.
“A kitten so I don’t feel so alone when everyone else is living their life with careers, social circles, adventure, plans, etc,” said Rosie Beasley.
“Betta fish tank, to help with anxiety and PTSD, etc,” said Brown-Lea Janet. “I really feel it will bring calmness.”
14. Spending Time With Loved Ones
You can’t exactly wrap “quality time” in a box, but it’d still be a treasured gift for a chronically ill loved one. Having to spend a lot of time sick at home, not being able to work, and having to go to the hospital frequently all add up to loneliness. Drop by your friend’s house for some Netflix binging or take them out for a coffee or movie. Giving the gift of your time and friendship often means more than any item you can buy in a store. To make it look more like a gift, give your friend coupons for activities you’d like to do together or favors you’d like to do for them — we created coupons to give a chronically ill friend you can print or email (featured above).
“I would like someone to pick me up at my door wa-a-a-ay out in the country and take me out for a nice meal at a good restaurant… It takes me two days to recover from the driving and being a ‘guest’ in someone else’s house,” said Kathleen Brockway. “I take myself out sometimes, but it’s not the same as having someone excited to see me and having the give and take of conversation.”
“OK, this isn’t really a gift, more like an invite? Most holidays suck, TBH. I do receive gifts from family and some friends and I appreciate that so much, but at the same time, I just want to be around those I care about. So really I’d like a friend to come over to visit or to see me, or invite me to something… being sick can feel really isolating, and in the end when I’m ill or having a bad day all I really want is some company,” said Brynn Brandon. “I know it’s not a gift, but company means so much more, I guess.”