Great Gift Ideas for People with PD

Christmas is round the corner and loved ones are beginning to frantically search shelves and the crevices of their minds as to what to get the loved one with Parkinson’s disease for Christmas.  Caregivers, family members, and friends can feel at a loss when it comes time to get a gift for a person with PD (Parkinson’s disease).   As a person with Young Onset Parkinson’s disease, I can tell you first-hand what some great gifts would be and why.  So – stop fretting and get ready to shop.

I think my all-time favorite is an electric toothbrush.  As the disease progresses, it becomes more difficult to not only hang onto a toothbrush but you can cause damage to the inside of your mouth if the tremors suddenly become out of control while brushing.  This can be painful.   Trust me.  There are several great ones out there.  Personally, I use an Oral B brand that was around $25 and I like it better than the Sonic Care one I had a few years ago.  Strictly a personal opinion.

Another great gift is terrycloth bathrobe.  Any bathrobe would be nice, I’m sure, but I specify a terrycloth because of it is much like a bath towel.  When the PD patient showers, they can step out and immediately put on the robe and by the time they brush their teeth, brush/dry their hair, etc., they are dry and able to just get dressed.  This eliminates the hassle (and sometimes that is putting it lightly) of trying to dry off.  Besides, it’s nice to have on cold evenings.

As the disease progresses, balance becomes a big issue and this can affect the patient’s motivation to walk or get out more.  A walking stick or often known as – a cane – is a practical gift for someone with Parkinson’s disease.  There can be, however, cause to distinguish between these two terms.  If your loved one is sensitive about his/her appearance regarding the advancement of the disease, you might consider an actual ‘walking stick’, often found in nature stores and/or sports stores.  To make it more personal, you might even consider having it (either item) personalized.

Along the same lines, adopting a guide/service dog is a real consideration, depending on the severity/progression of the disease and what you can afford.  It is becoming more common to see guide/service/helper/assistance dogs used for several disabilities, including PD, Multiple Sclerosis, hearing disabilities and more.  Not only do the ‘help’ their owner, they add companionship.  One way these dogs have contributed to the assistance of PD patients is by stepping on their foot when the dog identifies the person is ‘freezing’ – their feet remain in place when walking while the rest of their body keeps going.    This breaks the freeze and they can continue on without a fall.  There are dogs trained specifically for people with Parkinson’s disease.   Great stuff.

Does your loved one need a wheelchair to get around?  Have you considered upgrading to an electric one?  Or, it they want assistance but aren’t ready for that big of a move, try a ‘Rollator’.  You’ve probably seen them – the little chair-like walkers you push but can also sit down in.  You can get them with attachments (bags, etc) or add your own and they come in different colors.

Giving a gift certificate to a favorite or nearby salon is a treat.  As a person progresses through the stages of this disease,  everything becomes more difficult.  It becomes more difficult to dry your hair, take care of your fingernails and toenails.  Because of this, it is not only a treat to have it done, but may become a necessity for someone else to do it.  Why not make it ‘professional’ once in a while.  Manicures aren’t that pricey if you’re just doing the basics and most of the time, you great hand and forearm massage out of it…

Speaking of massages, one of the frustrating things for a person with PD can be stiffness throughout their body.  A gift certificate to a reputable masseuse would be more than welcome.  Along the same lines, an herbal neck wrap is great for those stiff necks.

If their laptop or PC comes equipped with a camera, set them up with Skype.  They can talk to their friends and family without having to leave the house.  You’ll still want to get them out but this will make them feel more connected.  Skype connects them not only in voice but through video as well.

You may want to consider a Nook or Kindle reader.  Fine motor skills/movements are one of the hardest things for a person with PD, and that includes being able to not only turn pages, but also just holding a book open.  To be able to just hold a small object and scroll down as you read when be a Godsend.  While you’re at it, tuck in a gift certificate to cover their first book purchase.

The greatest gift you could give would be you.  Often a Parkinson’s patient is not as mobile as they once were and are confined a bit more than they’d like to be.  A ‘booklet’ of coupons for lunch out, a walk in the park (with their new helper dog), dinner brought to their house, a movie date, etc. is the best gift of all.  It not only keeps them active, but keeps them feeling they are not a burden.  That – is a great gift.

Merry Gift-giving!!!
~ Sherri

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