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Gift Giving and Suggestions for those who are Sick

Its approaching the holiday time again, and many of you are beginning your shopping.  Black Friday, Cyber Monday, sales at 6 a.m., sales the night of Thanksgiving, 3″ thick newspaper ads….The list goes on and on.  The hype of the holiday gets earlier and earlier every year.  People have cut their lists back because of many reasons where the economy has put a crunch on our disposable incomes. We make our ‘lists’ of who to buy for, but among them there may be an ill family member–someone near and dear to you–a mom, dad, brother, sister, friend who needs a little more TLC.
Persons who are homebound, or terminally ill are more difficult to buy for, and you want the gift to be personal and compassionate–something other than a puzzle.  I have compiled a list of some things that are ‘more desirable’ to those who are ill (from personal experience):
Gift Cards–many people are on fixed incomes.  Gift Cards to Walmart, Target, Walgreens, and the like offer the opportunity to apply cash to purchases like prescriptions or expensive over-the-counter medications or treatments.   Specific stores like department stores or specialty stores are actually not a good idea due to the fact that someone usually will have to take the patient there, or it is difficult for them to try on clothing, or even wander through the store easily if disabled.  Superstores that have groceries in them are a plus, as the patient can opt to fill their refrigerator from the money on your gift card, which might be a necessity for them!
Food Delivery–Setting up (in advance) a date where you have food delivered to the person.  Find out what is their favorite restaurant and have food delivered to replace a meal–especially if the patient lives alone.  Sometimes its nice just to have ‘someone else’ make the food.  That being said, even making a special lunch or dinner for the person could be the gift in itself, and bringing it over and sharing the gift of food and ‘time’ with the patient.
Spa Service–A gift card to get nails done, or a relaxing massage for those who can go is a luxury that they most likely will not spend on themselves during this time of illness.  You can also find an independent nail tech or masseuse who could come to the home and give the patient a ‘treat’ of a manicure, pedicure or massage in their own home.  I personally did nails for an elderly brain tumor patient who couldn’t get out, and on occasion would fix her hair so she felt good about herself.  She loved getting her nails done!  Made her feel ‘normal’ again!
A Week/Month of Car Rides–you may have a patient who has numerous trips to the doctor (or even to the store), that you can give the gift of your services.  You can offer a week or even a month of car rides to the doctor, supermarket, drug store, etc to alleviate the burden of finding a ride.  It’s also a wonderful boding experience and a very rewarding act of kindness of someone for yourself.
Cleaning Service–I think anyone, ill or not, would enjoy a free, thorough house cleaning by an outside service! A gift certificate for a cleaning service, to be redeemed on a convenient day for the patient, will make them feel so good about the environment they live in.
Photo Album–Many establishments online and in-store have photo album services where you can download photos and make a photo book for someone.  It could be for a specific event to memorialize or just a group of pictures of old, or family–whatever topic you would like to highlight in a bound book of memories.  Obviously, this would take some homework—by either asking a caregiver or relative to gather up photos for you, or asking the patient to gather photos for you if that is convenient, letting them know they will get them back.
Personal Care Products (basket)–Skin becomes dry naturally in the winter with the cold air.  Its really an uncomfortable problem.  Chemo, dialysis and other treatments suck the moisture out of skin also. “Unscented” lotions are a win-win for those allergic to scents, and this way you do not purchase something that will stay on the shelf due to allergy.  Lip balm is a necessity, as lips get sore and cracked in treatment.  Another suggestion is dry shampoo, as hair sometimes cannot be washed often, as well as foot lotions for dry and cracked feet.  These products add up when the patient has to buy them, and having them on-hand will save them money and time going to the store.
Books, CD’s, Subscriptions–People who read can enjoy a good novel.  Even a magazine subscription–something to look forward to  each month.  Books on CD can be a nice gift for those who cannot see well to read anymore.  How wonderful to lay in bed and distract your mind from your illness by listening to a book on CD.  If the person doesn’t have a portable CD player, that could be a nice gift in addition to some CD’s to listen to.  Then you can buy some relaxation CD’s or music CD’s of their liking.  Elderly would enjoy music of the 40’s–nostalgia always brings a smile.   Children would love books on CD’s where they can even read along with the CD.  (Large book stores will carry these).  
Comedy–They say comedy/laughter are healing and have proved to make medical improvements in patients!  DVD’s of slap stick comedy, comedy of the patients era, or current movie comedies would be a great distraction to the patients illness, while being healing!  Add a DVD player to the mix if they do not have one!
Treatment Clothing–Our product, RonWear Port-able Clothing®, is the perfect gift for those going through dialysis, chemotherapy or infusion therapy.  Nursing home and Hospice patients benefit by the 4 zippers in the jacket–a hidden zipper in each arm, and a hidden zipper on each side of the chest for their IV line, PICC line, and/or blood pressure cuff.  The pant accommodates a femoral port (groin port) or catheter bag line if needed.  The clothing is stylish and fashionable–allowing the patient to ‘feel normal’ in treatment, make it easy to hook up to their treatment, while keeping them warm, comfortable, and most of all modest.  Treatment rooms are VERY cold, and patients are very uncomfortable.  In group settings, they are also immodest having treatment in front of others and sometimes exposing a little too much skin to be desired when wearing inappropriate outfits from home, or a hospital gown.  Antimicrobial it doesn’t spread germs, and water repellant, it beads up fluid that inevitably gets on the patients clothing ruining it or staining.  Purchase RonWear for a patient at 800-513-1458 or www.ronwear.com
I hope this helps you in finding the perfect gift for a loved one during the holiday (or even for another special occasion!).  In 7 years of caregiving, I realized some of the things that my family could use, and saw many things that my family never picked up that were given as gifts.    Its very hard to purchase gifts for people who are ill, but with a little creativity, or time, the perfect gift can be given and appreciated!
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Offering Prayer and Spirituality to Terminally Ill Patients

In all the caregiving I have done with my husband (cancer), brother (end stage renal failure), and mom (congestive heart failure), I have asked them if they wanted to say a prayer while I visited, or when I was leaving. They always said, ‘yes’. The fear of death in a terminal illness sometimes leads to either: 1) being mad at God or 2) leading them to God in terms of redemption and forgiveness.   My family opted for the latter, after questioning many times, of course, why this was happening to them as any normal patient would do.

My brother Ron (inspiration for RonWear Port-able Clothing) once told me,  “I love when we pray. It gives me hope”.  With all my family, I would keep the prayers short and ask God to heal as He see’s fit, and ask God to offer comfort and peace with the situation. Sometimes we would watch a modern day program on spirituality like Joel Osteen or even EWTN-TV if there was something good on that related to the patient. I would walk at their pace, as it is their journey.  Their relationship with God is personal one.   Each person’s journey is different, but can be influenced by those around them who ‘offer’ prayer, or ‘offer’ a religious figure (priest, rabbi, minister, etc) to speak to– if they are willing.  “Offering” is not pushing–its giving the patient the option of their spiritual choices in their end-stage of life, when sometimes, they need help in making decisions, also.

1341996510Sometimes a prayer before a meal with the patient is an easy way to invite support through prayer.  That may be a less ‘threatening’ way to offer consolation through the prayer that the caregiver or friend could lead.  Words could be offered in a meal prayer that could ask for comfort and peace and give hope to the patient, giving them a feeling of relief internally; knowing that there is someone asking for things that maybe they just do not know how to ask God for themselves.

In turn, it was consoling for me as a caregiver, that I potentially helped lead my loved ones to the right spiritual path  before they died–specifically my brother and husband, as they came full circle in their faith. My mom was always spiritual and taught me throughout my life by her example. In her last years, I would make sure I got her to Mass or had a priest come to give her the Eucharist (we are Catholic) and she was grateful, especially at the very end, where it was obvious that she waited for the priest to come for her last anointing.  She was totally alert, but passed 20 minutes after the priest left.  This was what was important to her throughout her life, and especially in her death.

When offering prayer or a pastoral visit to a patient, that offer is more likely to be taken up by the ill patient now, than any other time in their life.  We should not be afraid to ‘offer’.  If the answer is ‘no’, it’s ok!  It is the patient’s spiritual journey, not yours.  Their choices in their spirituality- as were the choices in their treatment– are their own.    Your spiritual support as a caregiver or friend may bring your terminally ill loved one to total peace and comfort before their death.   Don’t be afraid to make the ‘offer’ to someone before you who is passing.  In the end of their time, it just may be the thing that changes their entire life! (and possibly yours  for doing so!)