Helpful, last-minute gifts for people with Parkinson’s disease

Ways to promote your loved one's health while making their life easier

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by Lori DePorter |

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The last chaotic push for holiday shopping is upon us. Whether you’re buying, giving, requesting, or using gift cards during day-after sales, following are a few suggestions for gifts that might benefit the people in your life with Parkinson’s disease.

Above all, it’s important to remember the benefits of a healthy lifestyle when pondering the possibilities. It can be easy to lose sight of long-term health goals amid the hustle and bustle of the holidays, but those of us with Parkinson’s must eat healthily, get adequate sleep, and continue exercising to maintain our health. These practices aren’t geared toward avoiding weight gain; instead, they help with our brain’s daily battle for dopamine. We fight to keep it while Parkinson’s tries to take it away. The invisible enemy doesn’t honor any holiday truces, so we can’t give it an advantage.

Luckily, there are several great gift options that can provide us health benefits year-round.

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Fitness gifts are easy and practical

Fitness gifts can help keep patients moving and encourage us to prioritize exercise. Examples include certificates to attend Parkinson’s fitness classes or equipment to start an at-home program. My favorite items are adjustable weights that allow for different weight combinations, 12-pound water-filled punching bags that are small and easy to install, and trekking poles. Trekking poles are practical and can help with balance, coordination, cognitive skills, and cardio training.

Meal delivery services make eating a healthy diet more convenient

While a nutritious diet can benefit anyone, it may be especially important for people with Parkinson’s. Healthy foods are not only instrumental in increasing the efficacy of our medications, but specific diets also can provide numerous health benefits.

The MIND (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) diet, for example, has been shown to improve brain health and is associated with a later onset of Parkinson’s symptoms. It prioritizes foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and lean meats and places less emphasis on refined or highly processed items.

As a recent U.S. News article noted, the MIND diet is practical, too, appealing to families, budgets, and the environment. It’s low in carbohydrates, making it a lower-calorie diet, and recipes can be easily modified to accommodate various dietary needs. To support someone with Parkinson’s in following a diet like MIND, you might consider gifting them a subscription to delivery services such as Instacart or Gobble that can provide fresh, quality ingredients.

The gift of gadgets

Gadgets also make great gifts, as they can make life easier for people with Parkinson’s. The following list includes several items I highlighted in a past column, along with some tools recently recommended by fellow Parkinson’s News Today columnist Mary Beth Skylis.

  • An electric toothbrush makes brushing more efficient, but alternating hands also can be a great exercise in cognition and dexterity.
  • From blow dryers to hairspray, travel-size hair tools may accommodate our weakened grip strength and reduced coordination.
  • Weighted pens and eating utensils can help those with tremors improve their motor skills and function more independently.
  • Weighted blankets may ease tremors and anxiety.
  • My top pick is anything from Guide Beauty, a line of accessible beauty tools designed to allow people with hand mobility challenges to apply makeup.

So there you have it: gift cards to encourage healthy eating, exercise tools to help keep you moving, and gadgets to make life easier. These make easy, practical, and thoughtful gifts for people with Parkinson’s, both during the holidays and throughout the year.

Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.


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