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Gift guide: Gadgets for people with health conditions

Who needs another scarf or coffee mug? With the holiday shopping season upon us, PatientsLikeMe members are crowd-sourcing a list of handy products and tools that can actually help people living with pain, fatigue and other symptoms of chronic illness or aspects of aging.

Check out the list below, for starters, and then join PatientsLikeMe or log in to chime in with your own ideas here in our general forum (share your favorite gift ideas with your loved ones who truly want to know what’s on your wish list and what could be helpful for you!).

What’s behind this gadget guide/wish list?

We were inspired to start this “wish list” because many PatientsLikeMe members have shared in the condition forums which gadgets and products have helped them function a bit better day to day. For example, here’s a peek at items people with Parkinson’s disease and ALS have hailed as helpful in their community forums (join PatientsLikeMe or log in for access to all links):

  • “rocker knife,” also known as an “ulu” or a “mezzaluna” knife “works great for chopping/slicing veggies, fruits, cheeses, etc.” and a “large-blade pizza cutter is great for cutting pancakes/waffles very quickly,” one member says
  • With a food chopper, like those sold by The Pampered Chef, “I can chop onions, peppers, garlic in no time,” another member says in this thread about kitchen knives for people with tremors
  • Silk pajamas and/or satin sheets may make it easier to get in and out of bed
  • Members have made other wardrobe adjustments, like: “Larger, easy wear clothes, a long-handle shoe horn and pre-tied or slip-on shoes, covered hairbands looped through waistband button holes, an old shoe button hook & large paper clips in zipper grips for those days the fingers refuse to work” (Hint: Here’s how the hair elastic/button-hole trick looks… pregnant women also use this hack)
  • “I use elastic shoelaces so I don’t have to tie/untie my shoes,” another member says
  • “I can no longer button my shirts. This has led to me showing up in t-shirts for events that clearly require more. Then my doc suggested MagnaReady shirts – they have magnets that are hidden behind fake buttons and buttonholes. Genius!
  • For writing: PenAgain – alternative style pen, eliminates the need for a firm thumb-forefinger grip to write (available online and in office supply stores).
  • Devices that “cinch” your shoelaces (regular or elastic) closed so you don’t have to tie your shoes each time. An example is “lock laces.”
  • Also check out the products mentioned in our cleaning/laundry tips article (and the comments section), such as dust mop slippers and a garden kneeling pad (to make cleaning floors a little more comfy/easy) and a folding/camp stool to keep in the laundry area and/or kitchen when you need a quick rest. Consider asking for gift cards for a cleaning service or a new gadget (think: lightweight or robo-vacuum) that’ll make cleaning easier.

Drug store gift cards may not be the most exciting holiday present, but they’re very practical for most patients and can usually be used toward prescription medication co-pays (check with your local store to make sure).

What kinds of items would you add to this list? Join PatientsLikeMe or log in to see and add to the “gift guide” thread (and remember, don’t be shy about telling your friends and family what would be helpful to you this year!).

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