Meaningful Gifts for Someone with COPD
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Profile photo of Tonya Hidalgo

The holidays will be here before we know it, so it is time to start making the list. Then check it twice. Maybe you have been wondering what to get that special loved one with COPD. Should you think differently for him/her, or should you treat him/her the same as always.

There are only a couple of things that I would say should be left completely off of the list for any COPD patient. There may be one or two more for your particular situation, but these two seem like the most important to leave out.

  1. Anything that would encourage smoking is off-limits. This may seem like a no-brainer, but just to be sure, let’s go ahead and put it on the “do not give” list.
  2. Perfumes / Soaps / Essential Oils. Smells can trigger shortness of breath. Even the smells that were once loved can take his/her breath away. It is best to stay away from anything with strong smells.

With those two left out, now it’s time to concentrate on your loved one and his/her life. Think about your loved one’s personality and needs. Here are some suggestions of gifts for your loved one.

1. Money / Gift Cards.

Many times those dealing with chronic illness have major medical expenses that leave a lasting impact on every part of life. I have seen gift cards for groceries make a precious impact, and I have seen a gift of money lighten a load. However, only you know your loved one. If he/she is doing okay with money, maybe this is not the best gift.

2. Subscriptions / Game Time.

Maybe your loved one is into reading, music or online games. There are subscriptions that could make those passions more enjoyable. Maybe a year of unlimited reading on a digital device or a year of online gaming would bring a big smile.

3. Photo Books / Family Portraits / Scrapbooks.

I cannot think of anyone that does not enjoy looking at photos and remembering the good times. Taking the effort to put a photo book or scrapbook together says, “I love you,” in so many ways. I remember when we had a family portrait almost once per year, but now, I cannot remember the year of our last family portrait. I must have been a teenager.  Now I wish that we had gotten a family portrait of the entire family more often.

4. Chance to make memories (trip / planned family time / etc.).

Sometimes the best gifts are not things. They are experiences. If your loved one has a “bucket list” trip that you could help happen (and his/her health is good enough to go), I highly recommend giving it to your loved one. I took my mom on a “bucket list” trip before her health was too bad to go, and we always talked about how glad we were that we did it. Family time can be as simple as dinner or a long visit. In the end, you don’t take your stuff with you.

5. Your help.

The holidays can be very overwhelming even for those of us without COPD. Those with COPD want desperately to keep things as normal as possible, but as the disease progresses, it becomes increasingly difficult to continue doing things as before. Your help can make the difference during the holidays. You may still buy your loved one something, but your help may end up being the one thing that is appreciated most.

6. Your time. Life is busy.

Maybe you are not the caregiver. Maybe you are a family member: brother, sister, child, uncle, aunt, niece or nephew. When was the last time that you stopped by and spent time with your loved one? When was the last time that you told him/her about your life and really listened to what he/she had to say? Your time may mean more than you can imagine.

7. Write your own book (recipe / life story).

Maybe you have seen these in the stores. They are books with prompts and plenty of blank lines for writing. Some of them encourage telling stories from their childhood, and some prompts encourage telling more current stories. Recipe books bring together all of those special recipes that you both know need to be passed down in the family. These books are intended for keeping the family story alive. I wish that I had stories written down that my mom used to tell. Now I don’t remember them as well. As for the recipes, well there are some that I will have to fuss at her for not leaving well written, when I see her again in heaven. (smile)

I hope these ideas will help you as you begin to think of gifts for those in your life that live with COPD. They are still the same people that they always have been. There are just more limitations physically, but their love for you is the same. I would even say that his/her love has grown through the wisdom that has been gained in fighting a chronic illness. No one is guaranteed tomorrow. Not the 15 year old, and not the 95 year old. Enjoy every moment with your loved one. Make every passing holiday count.

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