Monday, November 20, 2023

Chronic Illness Holiday Gift Guide

Whether you are looking for gifts for someone else in your life who lives with chronic illness or other health problems or you could use a little self-care yourself, there is something here for everyone on your list! Choosing a gift for someone who's chronically ill and who is limited or even housebound can be tricky, but here I've collected a bunch of great ideas, many of them tested in our own home, sure to please the Spoonies in your life but also healthy friends & family. Shop for someone else, gift yourself, or add these to your own wish list for your family! And if you have other ideas, please let me know in the comments below.

Comfort and Care

Super Comfy Soft Blanket:

When I am crashed, all I want is to be surrounded with super-soft comfort, even when it's warm out! Just feeling that soft, smooth texture is very comforting. Here are several different blankets, all very soft and cozy, in varying weights.

Lightweight Blanket - This lightweight plush blanket is super soft. We have a bunch of these in our family room, and we use them around a campfire, too.

Heavier/Warmer Blanket  - Super soft outer layer, plus a sherpa lining, for extra warmth and two different textures.

Fuzzy Faux-Fur Blanket - This one is for people who appreciate ultra plush, fuzzy comfort (like my son!)

Weighted Blanket - For those who get comfort from a weighted blanket, this one also features a super-soft feel, with plush on one side and sherpa on the other.

Fuzzy Faux-Fur Blanket

Back Cushion for Support:

Lumbar Support Back Cushion - Life-changing for me! I got this gel-filled lumbar cushion for the car when I was having low-back pain but discovered it works just as well in my recliner to support my back and prevent pain. Also works for couch, bed, chair, or wheelchair.

Prop-Up Pillows

When you spend a lot of time in bed or on the couch, you need to prop yourself up sometimes (like to eat!). Here are some great options to support your back and keep you comfortable.

Adjustable Bed Wedge Pillow - This simple wedge pillow adjusts to multiple positions to support you while sitting or lying down

4-Piece Orthopedic Pillow Set - This 4-piece ergonomically-designed set can be used in many different ways to provide just the right support for your position (and there's currently a $10 off coupon available).

4-Piece Pillow Set

Comfy Slippers

I don't know about you, but with all the time I spend at home, the "shoes" I wear most are slippers, and they wear out. Because I wear them so much, I prefer the kind with good arch support or memory foam and durable soles that can go outside (I'm wearing them now as I type on my deck!).

Cotton Memory Foam Slipper - These inexpensive, lightweight but well-made slippers feature breathable cotton uppers, memory foam insoles, and nonslip rubber soles, in a variety of colors.

Orthotic Slippers with Arch Support - For those with plantar fasciitis or other foot pain, these slippers come with orthotic insoles for arch support and comfort (and still not very expensive and they look nice!).

Deluxe Orthopedic Slippers - A bit more expensive, these slippers (and other styles) from Orthofeet provide orthotic insoles, cushiony insides, and warm faux fur.

Convertible Indoor/Outdoor Slippers - These convertible slippers can be worn as clogs or with a back and come in unisex sizes, with a nonslip sole that can go outdoors.

Orthotic Slippers with Arch Support


If you spend a lot of time in pajamas or loungewear, they might as well be super comfortable.

Cozy Long-Sleeve Shirt and Joggers - These warm, ultrasoft pajamas from Eddie Bauer are comfy all over and look nice enough to be seen in! (a similar set for men)

Breathable Bamboo Pajamas (long) - I don't know about you, but I'm always overheated (my son is, too). This summer, I finally tried bamboo pajamas and love them! Super soft and lightweight but breathable, they are perfect for those who suffer night sweats or get overheated easily (similar pajamas/loungewear for men).

Breathable Bamboo Pajamas (short) - If you're looking for something even cooler, these are made of the same lightweight, breathable bamboo fabric, but in a shorts style (here are similar ones for Men).

Bamboo Pajamas

Ease the Pain and Fatigue

Ice Packs

Ice packs come in all shapes and sizes and have many uses for those with chronic medical conditions.

Large Flexible Ice Pack - I bought these because they were recommended when I went to physical therapy (the same kind they use professionally), and I can see why! They come in various sizes (I like the large one for back, shoulders, neck), are flexible, and comfortable. I just keep mine laid flat in the freezer, ready when I need it (note these can also be used as heating pads - keep one in the freezer and one out, ready to microwave).

Migraine Head Ice Hat - When you get a migraine or other severe headache, sometimes nothing seems to help, but ice/cold can do wonders to reduce swelling and inflammation, constrict blood vessels, and provide relief. I used to have to awkwardly wrap ice packs around my head and neck, but now you cam get one like this, made specifically for your head to wrap all the way around. Ahhh!

Migraine Ice Hat


Heating Pads

I used to use old-school electric heating pads, until my dermatologist said I had sun damage on my lower back. When I said that part of my body hadn't seen the sun in many decades, he explained that electric heating pads could damage the skin just like the sun. Since I lost my dad to melanoma, I was motivated to find an alternative! Again, I took the recommendations of professional physical therapists, who use gel-filled heating packs. They're not only safer and won't damage skin, but this kind of moist heat better penetrates deep into the tissue where it can do the most good.

Rectangular Two-Sided Hot/Cold Pack - While there are lots of gel heating pad options, this one is my favorite. It's inexpensive, well-made with sealed outer edges (I had a few that leaked after multiple microwaving before this one), and has two different surfaces. When it's very hot, just out of the microwave, I use the cloth-covered side and switch to the smooth side as it cools down a bit. It can also be used as a cold pack, but I reserve this one just for heat. I bought one for my step-mom for her birthday last year (she has chronic pain), and she said it was the best gift she'd ever gotten!

Aromatherapy Neck and Shoulders Hot/Cold Pack - This one is specially designed to wrap around neck and shoulders, which can be hard to get to with a rectangular pad. It's infused with herbs for aromatherapy, too.

Hot/Cold Pack


Migraine Glasses

With Lyme disease, my son often gets crippling migraines with severe light sensitivity that causes him to don sunglasses and hide in his room.

Anti-Migraine, Light Sensitivity Glasses - These can help when migraines hit but they can also help to prevent migranes and help with general light sensitivity. Bonus: they also block blue light from screens that can disrupt your sleep (see below). 

Migraine Glasses


Compression Garments

Anyone with any kind of Orthostatic Intolerance (OI, including POTS), which is everyone with ME/CFS and many with long-COVID, Lyme, EDS, and fibro, will benefit from compression socks and other garments that gently help to improve blood flow and prevent blood pooling in the lower extremities. And they now come in lots of stylish options--these are not your Grandpa's compression socks!

Knee-High Light Compression Socks (Women) - Made for nurses (who spend a lot of time on their feet), these light compression socks come in lots of fun styles.

Unisex Light Compression Knee-High Socks - Rated light compression (15-20 mmHg), these fit men and women and come in a variety of styles.

Inisex Moderate Compression Knee-High Socks - These provide more compression, rated moderate (20-30 mmHg) and come in packs with lots of wild designs--you might as well enjoy them!

Women's High-Waisted Compression Shorts -  Studies show that compression shorts that cover the waist and pelvic area can help OI by prevent blood pooling while sitting or standing. Most compression shorts sold as shapewear or athletic wear (like these) will do the trick. Bonus: These have high waists and pockets and could be worn under clothes or on their own. Similar style for men.

Women's Light Compression Tights - Provides compression from the waist down to ankles. And a similar style for men.

Moderate Compression Tights for Women - These provide moderate compression (20-30 mmHg). Similar style in unisex sizing.

Moderate Compression Socks

Stay Hydrated! 

Hydration is so important, for treating Orthostatic Introlerance (OI), which is partly due to an inability to hold onto fluids, and for general health and well-being. There are all kinds of great water bottles and other designs available now to keep your drinks cold (or hot in winter). I carry my water bottle everywhere with me, and my son fills his with electrolyte solution (made with GU Brew tablets).

Plastic Water Bottle with Chug Lid and Carry Handle - I prefer bottles without straws because I find them difficult to clean. This BPA-free bottle comes in three different sizes (go for the 32 or 40 oz!) with an easy-drink lid, and it's dishwasher safe.

Leak-Proof Bottle with Spout Lid- This one comes in 22 and 32 oz sizes, is dishwasher safe, and has a spout lid. Comes in lots of colors.

Insulated Stay-Cool (or Hot) Bottle - With double-walled insulation, this bottle keeps your drink cold (or hot) for hours and comes in larger sizes, plus three different lid styles.

Neoprene Insulated Carry Holder for Water Bottle - I want this! Comes with a carry strap so it's easy to bring your water bottle wherever you go, and the Neoprene holder keeps it cold (and stops it from sweating).

Insulated Bottle


Work or Play

Whether you're trying to work from home or just enjoy some fun, these items can help to support you and make it easier to both work and play.

Lap Desk 

I'm always looking for a good lapdesk that allows me to use my laptop and/or write while in my recliner, on the couch, or in bed.

Lightweight Cushioned Lap Desk - this simple, inexpensive lap desk has a cushioned bottom for comfort, with space for air flow to keep your laptop from overheating, and a ridge to keep it from sliding. I added this to my wish list!

Lap Desk with Mouse Pad - This slightly larger lap desk has those same features, plus a mousepad and a holder for your phone.

Lap Desk with Adjustable Legs - I don't usually like lap desks with legs because they're usually too high for me, but this one has adjustable legs and a bunch of other useful features.

Lightweight Cushioned Lap Desk


Holder/Stand for Tablet or Book

Whether you're trying to expend as little energy as possible or have pain issues in neck, arms, or shoulders, some sort of holder or stand can help to support a tablet or book.

Flippy Soft Multi-Angle Pillow Stand  - Ok, sure I love the name, but this one also seems to be very practical for anyone bedridden or couchbound, with different viewing angles on each side and a soft surface. When my mom said a large hardcover book she was reading was too heavy for her injured shoulder, I got her something similar to this.  

Standing Tablet/Book Stand - This stand allows you to read or use a tablet hands-free and without anything on top of you. It stands on the ground but is very adjustable, whether you're in bed, on the couch, or in a recliner. I gave this to my step-mom for Christmas last year when she said she couldn't read anymore because of her chronic neck pain. This allows her to put the book or tablet right at eye level, no matter where she's sitting. She was thrilled! 



Blue Light Blockers

As I explain in my post on Correcting Sleep Dysfunction, sleep experts all advise avoiding screens in the two hours before you go to sleep at night. Blue light suppresses melatonin, telling your body it's wake-up time! But what if you enjoy watching a show or movie before bed? If you're using a laptop, tablet, or phone, you can turn the blue light off at night (look for Night Shift on Apple devices in the Display and Brightness option under Settings). My iPad is set to turn off blue light at 9 pm every night, for times when I'm using it as an e-reader. There are also several gadgets that can block blue light. 

Blue Light Blocking Glasses - These have clear-looking lenses and come in sets of two to four pairs, in a wide variety of sizes, for both men and women. Perfect for watching TV.

Blue Light Blocking Reading Glasses - If you are of a certain age and looking for blue-light blockers for when you're using your phone, tablet, or other device up close, these combine blue light blocking with reading glasses, available in different strengths. They come in packs of five, so you can leave them in different rooms of the house, and several different styles.

Blue Light Blocking Screen Protector for MacBook laptops - If you'd prefer not to wear glasses, you can get a blue light blocker that covers your whole screen. This one has various sizes for different MacBooks. This one fits certain iPhones. If you scroll down a bit on either page, you'll find other options for different types, brands, and sizes of devices.

Audio Book Membership

Many people with chronic illness struggle to read books in print but can still enjoy audiobooks. I'm a huge fan of audiobooks and listen to all kinds! If you also struggle with longer or more complex audiobooks, try middle-grade or teen/YA books on audio. This blog post, The Joy of Reading, is excerpted from a chapter in my book and includes some great tips for enjoying reading, with lots of recommendations! An audiobook membership makes a great gift for people who love books, whether they can manage reading in print or not. 

Audible - The biggest and most well-known source for audiobooks recently is this subset of Amazon, with two different membership options. - With this source for audiobooks, every purchase helps to support independent bookstores (one you select or all of them).


Sweet Dreams

Since we spend so much time in bed but are still always exhausted, we can use all the help we can get! Check out my tips in How to Nap, and also improve your sleep quality with the treatments in Correcting Sleep Dysfunction. These all make great gifts for your favorite spoonie (or yourself).

Eye Mask and Ear Plugs

As I explain in those blog posts linked above on napping and sleeping, keeping the sleep environment--whether at home or away--cool, dark, and quiet is essential. An eye mask and ear plugs can help.

3D Light-Blocking Eye Mask - This soft, spongy eye mask reduces pressure around the eyes and block all light.

Silk Eye Mask - Silk is gentler on the skin than other materials, and as a natural fiber, it is also breathable so should help to prevent overheating.

Weighted Lavender Aromatherapy Sleep Mask - Personally, I hate scented stuff, but my mom loves her weighted lavender sleep mask, and I know many people swear by aromatherapy (and lavender is a sleep aid). With this one, you can remove the inner bag filled with lavender to use it alone and/or heat it in the microwave.

Silicone Ear Plugs - Forget the old foam-style ear plugs; silicone ones work so much better! To block out street noise, household noise, a partner's snoring, or so you can nap in public (like on an airplane), these are a game-changer! Great stocking stuffer or Hanukkah gift.

3D Eye Mask


Soft, Warm Socks

As I explain in my How to Nap post and video, studies show that warm socks help you fall asleep more quickly--it's science! I wear these to bed at night and pull them over my regular socks at naptime. They are lightweight but warm and super-soft:

Women's Fuzzy Socks - These come in sets of 5-6 pairs, in a wide variety of colors. Scroll down for similar socks in different designs.

Men's Fuzzy Socks - Different designs are available, and these come with non-slip grips on the bottoms for wearing outside of bed.

Women's Fuzzy Socks


Room-Darkening Curtains

While an eye mask can help, nothing beats a really dark room when you need good quality sleep. Light tells your body to stop making melatonin, so block out as much light as possible with room-darkening curtains. My son and I both have these in our bedrooms, and my husband calls our bedroom "the cave." I love it.

Light-Blocking, Energy Smart Curtain Panels - These will not only darken your room effectively but also help to block noise and lower energy bills! We have them in our bedrooms but also in the family room, where the afternoon sun heats things up in the warmer months. They come in 15 different colors and 34 different width and length options and are easy to install on any curtain rod. And there's currently a 10% off coupon, too!

Light-Blocking Curtains


Lots of great gift ideas here for friends, family, or yourself!

What are YOUR favorite gifts to give/receive?

Let me know in the comments below.

You can also connect with me on Facebook and Twitter.


Captain K said...

Thank you for the recommendations. Been wearng my new Orthofeet slippers for a week now and they are a blessing for my feet! I have CPRS in my feet and ankles, so the faux fur works wonders for the pins and needles. My other shoes are sandals and walking shoes from Orthofeet.

Sue Jackson said...

Wonderful! So great to hear some personal feedback on those - they look great but I hadn't tried them myself, so thanks for taking the time to comment and share your thoughts! Glad you found something that helps :)


Frances said...

Thanks for suggesting so many great things. I'll be treating myself! Lol

Sue Jackson said...

Wonderful, Frances! You deserve it! Glad you saw some enticing things here. I added a few to my own wish list while making this list!


Andee Neff said...

I added a few of these to my wish list. Thanks for the ideas!

Sue Jackson said...

Wonderful, Andee! So glad you saw some thing you liked :)