Gifts for People with Parkinson’s Disease – Christmas 2013 Edition

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.

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 justwhat someone else needs.

A reader sent in these great ideas (thanks, Muriel !): Muriel's mom loves playing cards but it's difficult for her to hold them… voile!!! An electronic card shuffler and a card holder. Excellent idea!

And, Muriel's other suggestion comes via her mother's Christmas list request – an electric shaver. Another great idea!!!

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 they don't have to hold, lighter baking pans/dishes.

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?

You can either make 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.

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. How about gifting a membership for a Tai Chi class or buying a Tai Chi exercise video?

It may seem silly or insignificant, but a night light 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.

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.

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 gift to give your friend a break.

There's a lot of hubbub lately about the benefits of music and dance in the life of a PD patient. Dance has been known to reduce tremors without any medication adjustments, in and of itself. You could consider taking your PD'er to a dance class as your partner and offer them some great exercise/health benefits at the same time.

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!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


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  1. Hi Sherri,
    I was very happy to read your gift ideas for patients with PD. I have a family member who is exhibiting an intense Parkinsonian tremor (he does not have a PD diagnosis, but this effect is a known side effect of his medication). Your ideas have been a great starting point for holiday shopping.
    I’d like to share one idea that you and your readers may find interesting. I came across this product by Lift Labs: Essentially, it’s a spoon with a small cpu that detects the user’s movement pattern and a small motor moves the spoon to cancel out tremor. Unfortunately, this technology is still a bit pricy for most consumers ($300), but some may find that this product’s usefulness is well worth it.

  2. Your post caught my eye. The gift ideas are wonderful and I have one more to add to your list: walkie talkies. It was my mom’s idea. She lived at home with my stepdad and as her voice became weaker (and his hearing became worse), she had a hard time getting his attention, especially if he was not in the room. She was not able to get up by herself and he was afraid to leave her alone for any extended period of time. She was unable to use the phone, but she could press the button on a walkie talkie to let him know she needed his help. This was a gift for both of them.

  3. Kristy Jackson :

    I am still looking for the elusive perfect wallet. Does anyone have any suggestions? Have any of you come across a place that sells something that would be perfect for a wallet? Thanks. I love all of the suggestions and comments were really helpful.

  4. Sherri – would it be okay if I included these gift ideas for an article I am working on for our organization’s magazine? I would attribute this blog post and you of course.

  5. My Mom loves playimg cards. It was apparent yeaterday it is hard for her to hold the cards. So she is getting a card holder with a card shuffler for Christmas. She also requested am electric razor.

  6. Hi again Sherrie,
    this is just a thought for what maybe a minority but if it changes just one persons life for the better then it would have been worthwhile posting.
    Are you/or do you know a person who is a radio amateur (Ham) ? if the answer is yes and that person can no longer operate their HF rigs etc there is a great voip (voice over internet protocol) program that is easy to use and great people to talk to day and night. It can be used on VOX which means it can be operated on voice only. Anyone interested should go to and download the software. The program is free to have a trial to see if you like it and if you do it’s 30 Euro’s a year thereafter. I have no financial gain regarding this post and please be advised that only registered Ham’s or people with radio knowledge (who will have to do an online exam to qualify) will be able to use the software.
    Callsign withheld.

  7. Hi,
    These are some really great ideas. I am having a really hard time trying to find a meaningful gift to give him for the holidays. I really don’t want to give the ol staple…clothes. He’s a lot worse off these days. He is in a wheelchair all the time now. Although all great ideas, I was hoping you might have some more suggestions for someone who has, i don’t know how to say this, gotten worse I guess. He says he can’t read anymore. He ends up reading the same thing over and over again. He has a real hard time operating anything technological. I have gotten him massages before, and he liked them, but at the moment he is in a FEMA shelter (he lives on Long Island) and I’m not sure where he is going to end up. He needs around the clock care. I’m sorry if this is too much. It’s just that he’s my Dad and I love him so much I want to give him something that he will love, appreciate and be able to use.

    • Hi Meaghan -
      Sorry for the delay. I was having my second DBS during the interim and am just getting to my emails. It’s hard for me to know what to suggest and I’m afraid it may be too late, but I’ve put out some feelers re: gifts in the later stages and I’ll let you know what comes in. And – no apologies and it wasn’t too much. I’m glad you asked. Sorry I couldn’t be more help.

  8. I gave my step-father with PD a rubber stamp of his signature last year, taken from an image before his hands were unstable, so it’s nice and clear. It was really appreciated!

    • What an absolutely WONDERFUL idea! Do you mind if I share it, credited to you, of course. I love it! As a young girl, for some reason, God gifted me with nice handwriting (it’s a hereditary thing on my mother’s side, I think!). Many often commented on my handwriting. No one says a word now and I can hardly decipher what I write most of the time anymore. Thank God for keyboards and audio/recorder-thingey-ma-jigs! Thanks so much for sharing!

  9. This is such a great list! And for friends who really want to help out (no matter how much I resist a helping hand!), this is a wonderful way to ask for holiday gifts that would make my life easier. Thank you!!

  10. Thanks for Sharing your post , Very thoughtful Gifts.

  11. Laura Sampson :

    I love this Sherri ~ you are so talented. Praying you’d find the time and energy needed to publish some of your work. And I was also thinking…it would be fun to do a book together like Girlfriends Together by Michelle Branch. It could be smaller…but encouraging stories, recipes, gardening tips, short devotionals…we could put it all together in one book!
    What do you think? (I really just want to spend more time with you:))
    It was so fun to see you last week ~ always a special treat!
    love you,

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