My friend Doug lives with osteoarthritis, and it has gotten worse as he’s aged into his seventies. He says the worst part for him is not the discomfort, but the fact that he feels so limited by his arthritis and can’t do all the things he once loved to do. He looks out the kitchen window and mourns that he’s had to let the garden go because it involves too much up-and-down movement and too much work with his hands and arms. And whereas he once used to bring all of his summer vegetables into the kitchen to work into fresh recipes, even cooking has become a difficult chore.
While Doug’s limitations are very real, it’s important to remember that we don’t need to get discouraged and surrender to those limitations; we can discover new ways to support a thriving life, and caregivers are in a great position to spearhead that discovery. Brainstorming gifts for someone with osteoarthritis could lead to a more empowered and fulfilling lifestyle if those gifts help them to feel more comfortable and to re-engage with some of the things they love. The best gift ideas will be geared to the individual, but we’ve gathered some great options that can help set you on the right track.
Finding the Best Gifts for Someone with Osteoarthritis
To find the perfect gift for your aging loved one with osteoarthritis, think of activities with which they struggle, times of the day when they experience discomfort, and any other helpful resources or services that might ease their everyday burden.
Gifts to Help with Tasks
Objects that are designed to be ergonomically supportive can allow an older adult with osteoarthritis to be more effective and more comfortable with a task. This can help improve their functionality and allow them to participate in activities they enjoy.
- Soft-grip utensils
- Electric jar and can openers
- Electric salt and spice grinders
- Cutting boards with spikes to hold food in place
- Or other specialty tools geared toward what they like to eat and cook
Other Everyday Activities
- Key turners or key holders that give fingers more leverage when using keys
- A book rest that allows them to read without holding the book
- A long shoe horn
- Padded gardening gloves and soft-grip tools
- An ergonomic computer mouse
- Voice recognition software, so they can use the computer without the burden of typing
- Jewelry with magnetic clasps for easy on and off
- Reachers help to access out-of-reach places in the home
Another great gift that can help your loved one overcome some of the limitations of their osteoarthritis is to spend time with them completing tasks together. With a combination of special tools and cooperative help from his caregiver, Doug is able to work in his garden again and is bringing it back to life. With regular help, not only are daily tasks less burdensome, but those favorite activities that have fallen by the wayside might become accessible once again.
Gifts That Give Comfort and Healing
People who struggle with osteoarthritis symptoms can experience pain and discomfort on a daily basis. Gifts that ease some of their tension, take their mind off their symptoms, and make them feel nurtured are often greatly appreciated.
- Heating pads, electric or microwaveable. You can even make your own easy heat or cold pack by filling a sock with rice or oatmeal and sewing or tying it off tightly with thread! (Microwave it until warm for muscle pain or put it in the freezer for cooling relief of joint pain.)
- A scarf or other warming accessories
- Massage gloves
- Audiobooks or a subscription to Audible for regular audiobook selection
- Magazine subscriptions to publications like Arthritis Today or Pain-Free Living
Out-of-the-Box Gifts to Surprise Your Loved One
Depending on what your aging loved one is interested in or what they could use assistance with, helpful gifts could come in so many different forms. Here are some extra special ideas to help support and enrich the life of your loved one:
- A massage or visit to a spa
- An acupuncture session
- A series of yoga or tai chi or even water aerobics classes for gentle but rejuvenating movement
- A home-cooked meal, ready to serve
- The gift of regular, in-home assistance personalized to the individual’s needs
The thought you put into gift giving for a loved one with osteoarthritis adds a positive dimension to caregiving because you are investing in a brighter, warmer future. When the aging adults in our lives begin to experience changes that limit their independence and abilities, they may feel out of control and hopeless. But the right gift given in the right spirit can help them to regain a sense of hope and empowerment, which will build with each passing day as they feel more connected and engaged with life.
For more ideas to support an aging loved one in living independently and comfortably, check out Institute on Aging’s blog. Or reach out to us directly to find out how our programs, services, and other resources might be the ticket to an older adult’s brighter future.