Gifts Ideas for Someone in a Wheelchair

July 9, 2019
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A question I get every year when it is close to my husband’s birthday or Christmas is “what should we get for Bill?” This can be a difficult question but there are absolutely some do’s and don’ts when it comes to purchasing an appropriate gift for someone in a wheelchair.  If you are going to take the time to get a gift, it is important to make sure you are getting something that person can actually use. The last thing you want to do is burden that person with the task of returning an unwanted or non-useful item. Chances are good they won’t be able to return it themselves which means you create another task for their caregiver to do.  This can all be avoided with some consideration before you start shopping.

The first thing you can do of course is ask their wife/husband, close family or their caregiver.  The people who spend the most time with them will have the best insights into the likes and dislikes of the person in a wheelchair for whom you are shopping. These are the people who can also help you eliminate some things based on their knowledge of what would and would not be useful.  For instance, my husband has limited hand function so purchasing him a fishing pole that he is not able to hold would not be a good gift.

Another way of coming up with a gift to think about things you know that person likes.  Are they a sports fan? Getting them a t-shirt or baseball hat with their favorite team’s logo or a sticker for their car or even their wheelchair.  Are they a Disney fan? Maybe a gift with their favorite character would be fun. Are they a fan of superhero movies? A fun gift basket themed to something they like would be a great gift.  Do they like to eat out at certain places? A gift card to their favorite restaurant might be fun. I know for my husband; he tends to stick to a few restaurants that he really likes and where he knows they have tables that will work for him.  Getting him a gift card to a restaurant where he is unable to get under the table would be a waste of money so it is always great when people ask me first before buying.

Something else to consider when looking for a gift for someone who is in a wheelchair is an experience.  Being in a wheelchair often presents a huge obstacle for that person to experience things that able-bodied people do without even having to think about it.  If you are able to create an experience by making all the necessary arrangements, you just might have yourself a “that was the best gift I ever received” exclamation heading your way.  Here are the things to consider when planning an experience for someone in a wheelchair:

  1. Pick an experience that you know the person will love:  a sporting event, concert, wine tasting, beer tasting, dinner and a movie, bowling, sky-diving, a cruise, theme park visit, etc. 
  2. Make sure to arrange for transportation to and from the event, especially if the person in a wheelchair is not able to drive.  If you are hiring car service and you require a lift for the person to remain in the wheelchair, be sure to state that clearly and confirm your reservation several times.  Every city is different and some have many accessible vehicles and some have none. Sometimes the best option is to rent a wheelchair accessible van if your experience will be several days long.
  3. Confirm with the venue(s) that they have wheelchair accessible parking, seating and restrooms (and please say “wheelchair accessible” and not “handicap accessible” as they are very different.)
  4. Consider the weather and temperature of the venue, especially if it is outside.  Many people in a wheelchair have sensitivities to the hot and cold temperatures. Also, if it were to rain, be sure you are prepared to offer a large umbrella to keep them dry.
  5. Make sure to plan the day with plenty of breaks for restroom use, water and rest.
  6. Do everything you can to make sure the person you have purchased the experience for feels pampered and cared for, this will make the gift even more meaningful.
  7. Have fun!  

Clothes are another great gift, especially for men who don’t really like to shop for themselves.  I tend to shop online a lot because I can look for exactly what my hubby wants or what I know he would like.  Finding clothes that fit and work well for a person in a wheelchair can be a challenge but once you know a particular size, style or brand you can shop easily online.  Getting a jersey or something special personalized is also a great idea, just be sure to allow enough time to order and have it delivered. There is nothing worse than having to wrap a paper with a picture of the item you ordered printed on it instead of the item…not that I have ever done that personally, I am just sharing the experience of a friend. 

If you are anything like me, you enjoy finding the perfect gift and seeing the reaction of the person receiving the gift.  I know finding the perfect gift for someone in a wheelchair can be challenging, but there are a lot of great gifts out there if you just take the time to figure out what would work best.  

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About the Author: Julie Davis

Julie is the wife of Bill Davis and serves as both his spouse and caregiver. Julie has learned to embrace the struggle and thrive in the midst of insurmountable circumstances with her husband Bill. She has a heart to bring hope and healing to spouses, caregivers, and paralysis survivors for the glory of God.

You can connect with Julie by joining TWP Wives of Paralysis Survivors on Facebook

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