What’s a good gift for people with MS?

With the holiday season in full swing, getting a gift for someone you care about can be challenging. Especially if you want it to be meaningful. If you’re looking for a gift for someone with multiple sclerosis (MS), a good approach is to think about the symptoms they talk about.

Symptoms of MS vary greatly from person to person. One type of gift that someone wants or needs may not always apply to another. But there are many wonderful gift items with features that address specific symptoms of MS. We reached out to our Facebook community Living with Multiple Sclerosis to see what kinds of gifts people who have MS would appreciate.

Getting overheated can cause pseudo-exacerbation for people with MS. This is a condition in which symptoms temporarily worsen. It’s an unpleasant feeling that can come on suddenly during hot or humid conditions, such as when they are out in the sun or during physical activity. Since symptoms generally improve when body temperature returns to normal, a cooling gift is a great idea.

$: Cooling scarves

A cooling scarf is easy to use and can help people with MS enjoy their favorite activities, especially during the warmer months. Most are inexpensive and come in a variety of colors. Check out this cooling scarf and wrist bandana. To get it ice cold, soak it in water for 10 minutes. Plus, it’s reusable.

$$: Heavy-duty cooling vest

Sometimes a scarf just can’t cut it. For a more powerful cooling tool, consider a cooling vest. These vests stay cool for hours and can look sporty at the same time. A good vest can range from $50 to $400, depending on the brand. Click here to learn about the top seven brands and how to choose the right vest.

$$$: Air conditioner

For the ultimate keep-cool gift, purchase an air conditioner. A portable air conditioner can range from $300 and up. A more affordable option is this beautiful and functional hummingbird figurine fan.

MS can cause numbness or weakness in the arms and hands. Some people also feel tingling or pain in parts of their body. Some days the pain or tremors can make everyday tasks uncomfortable or challenging. Thankfully, smaller gifts such as easy-to-grip bottle and jar openers, grooming products, or wheelchair pouches are great stocking stuffers.

$: A new walking cane

How about a walking aid? There’s a whole new generation of canes designed to match an outfit or a mood. Check out these stylish and lightweight canes that start from $27 and up. You can even add some accessories to make your gift as fun as it is practical.

$$: Hands-free blow dryer

A hands-free blow dryer is a gift that keeps on giving. Some dryers come with a clip that attaches to a wall. You can also purchase a generic blow dryer stand. For the ultimate hands-free dryer, this light weight model can rest on any firm surface. And if you want to stick with the morning routine theme, add a magnifying mirror to the gift bag. It makes shaving or putting on make-up that much easier.

$$$: Weighted blanket

The numbness and tingling in people with MS can often affect their legs and disrupt their sleep. A weighted blanket can help with these symptoms by decreasing movement. One study found that weighted blankets have a positive effect. They lead to calmer and more secure nights of sleep. This weighted blanket feels like a soft pillow.

$: Reading and writing devices

Poor vision caused by MS can make reading and writing a major challenge. Electronic readers such as a Kindle offer users the opportunity to enlarge print size and even change fonts. These readers open up a whole new world of newspapers, magazines, and books in suitably large print. If dexterity is a problem, so is legible writing. Products such as Pen Again are ergonomically designed to eliminate the need to grip.

$$: Remote controlled lights

Practical and decorative, these remote controlled lights by Flux are a great gift for someone with MS. That’s because you can control the settings through your smartphone. If you have Amazon Echo, you can connect the lights to make them voice activated. The lights have 16 different colors as well. Sync the lighting to a playlist or change the colors to ease eye strain.

$$$: Motorized scooter

Some people with MS have trouble walking or balancing. Sometimes this interrupts their lifestyle or ability to get to work. Before you purchase an electric scooter, make sure they are interested. Most people with MS don’t talk about their walking problems and some may not have any trouble in this area at all. The scooters are costly so it’s best to make sure the gift is truly wanted and needed.

$: A VISA gift card or homemade coupon

Even though a VISA gift card can seem impersonal, it can do wonders to help out with the financial stress that is often caused by MS. Research shows that stress can worsen MS symptoms. A gift card of money allows the person to use the finances where they need it, whether it’s for medical bills or regular expenses. Even a card with an “IOU” that offers to drive them around on errand day would be a thoughtful gift.

$$: Cleaning, grocery, and meal services

Overwhelming fatigue is one of the most common symptoms of MS. Fatigue can make it difficult to keep up with everyday chores. Consider the gift of a cleaning, grocery, or meal service. A TaskRabbit gift card lets the person request cleaning or home repair services. A laundry service that does pick-up and delivery is another great option. Set up a convenient grocery delivery through services such as Peapod or gift premade meals with Magic Kitchen and Healthy Chef Creations.

$$$: Spa day

Chronic illness can strain finances. Many people with MS skimp on added luxuries. A little pampering goes a long way. Order a manicure, pedicure, facial, or massage. Better yet, make it a gift certificate with an a la carte menu. For added companionship, make it a spa day for two. If driving is a problem, offer to provide transportation.

Probably one of the most important things to remember is to spend quality time with someone who has MS. Gifts are just another way to show you care, but you don’t always have to spend money.

The symptoms of MS are so variable, not all the gifts listed here may apply. Don’t be afraid to get creative. The gift of an adventure can be more memorable. Plan a day trip; take them for a drive in the country or for an outing in the city.

Remember to take a moment to listen about their day and learn more about their condition. And unless there is an expressed interest, skip the themed merchandise such as MS-themed books, cups, or mugs.

Someone with MS is more than their condition. You can’t go wrong when you listen and give from the heart.

Ann Pietrangelo is a freelance writer living with MS. She tells her story in “No More Secs! Living, Laughing & Loving Despite Multiple Sclerosis.” She recently wrote a second memoir, “Catch That Look: Living, Laughing & Loving Despite Triple-Negative Breast Cancer.”