Top 10 Holiday Gift Ideas for Concussion Recovery
With the holidays approaching, I wanted to put together a list of some of my favorite things that help make my life a little easier living with post concussion syndrome. As a PCS spoonie, these items added to your wishlist, or as a spouse/mother/father/daughter/son/cousin/aunt/uncle/grandparent/friend you could successfully surprise your loved one with any of these items and they would be VERY impressed with your empathy and understanding of things they need.
A 2018 Planner
I utilize the calendar on my iPhone and iPad, but I am always organizing everything in my traditional, write-things-down-on planner. I have a lot of friends that swear by the planners made by Erin Condren but they are pricey. I found a great 2018 similar version at Michael’s here for a fraction of the cost. I also follow an awesome fashion blogger, Erin over at Living in Yellow, and she just posted about her favorite planners that I would’ve loved to have read before I purchased my 2018 one. You can check her recommendations here.
Pretty Notepads, Notebooks, Post-it’s and Checklists
One Christmas my husband gave me two different notepads, a grocery shopping one and a meal planning one. These forced me to start meal planning and helped me prepare my grocery lists. They were magnetic and stuck to my fridge. I would use the lists for as long as I needed to and keep buying the notepads until the process became habit and I no longer relied on the fancy notepads. You can achieve the same success with a printed out version of these notepads, or a photocopy of it, but I have always appreciated the “pretty” version of the magnetic notepads and the thoughtfulness of the gift. These pads were Knock Knock notepads, and I think they would make a great resource for someone navigating life with PCS. I also always love an inspirational notebook as opposed to a run of the mill Mead and Amazon has a few notebooks with some inspiring messages on them – my favorites here and here. I may have purchased another when compiling this list..you can never have enough notebooks!
If you’ve been following along, you know I have mentioned this in other posts, but I am a HUGE Apple fan. I appreciate the fact that all of my Apple products (iPhone, IPad and Mac) all link to one another and I can access my calendar, to-do lists, and apps that I have on one device on the others. This was very effective in the early days after my TBI, when I was frequently misplacing my phone and iPad and I couldn’t remember where I had recorded the memo or to-do list that I wanted to remember. This year, there are two new iPhone’s available- the iPhone 8 and iPhone X. I’m not quite sure the specifications on either (or the differences between the two) but like all technology, the newer versions are generally faster, have more capabilities, features and perform better than their older versions. I have been very happy with my iPhone 6 Plus, and I am due for an upgrade, so either the iPhone 8 Plus or iPhone X is on my radar. I take a lot of pictures on my phone (a compensating strategy because of my dreadful memory) and have seen the pictures the iPhone 8 Plus can take, which is why I want the Plus or the X- apparently those camera capabilities are only available on those versions. Regardless, you can’t go wrong with a new iPhone!
My husband nailed it with this as a gift for me last year. I had told him, “I don’t need an Applewatch,” repeatedly yet it still arrived and I fell in love. I set up my watch that night and we will be celebrating our one year anniversary next month. For someone with memory problems and constant distractions (um, I mean kids) this watch has been a lifesaver with setting reminders in the things that I need to do. I simply hold the button down and ask the watch to “set an alarm for 2:15 to wake my son up from his nap” or “set a reminder to return the library books on Tuesday” and the action is on my calendar and I am reminded when it needs to get done. My watch replaces my brain and I can go back to saving my brain energy for other tasks. I am sure there are other less expensive items out there (I think my husband paid $400 for it in 2016) but as I explained with my love for Apple products above, this watch works for me because it syncs with my other Apple products. I can access my calendar, text messages, receive phone calls, and I like the workout app. I haven’t used all of the capabilities when it comes to it (I have yet to get back to my ‘normal’ workouts after having the baby in March) but it tracks my steps and is very easy to use. The only pitfall to the watch is it drains my iPhone 6 Plus battery when I use it (it connects to my phone via Bluetooth) so I need to frequently charge my phone. The other drawback? I forget to sync it via bluetooth and it doesn’t receive any of my messages all day. #memoryproblems
I just recently wrote an entire blog post about all of the things I use my Amazon Echo, also known as Alexa, for here. Alexa is my personal assistant and I wouldn’t be nearly as successful in my daily life if it wasn’t for her. She would make a great companion for someone suffering from PCS, especially if they are recently diagnosed. This gift also encompasses a wide range of ages, so it suits a variety of generations. With Cyber Monday quickly approaching, I have a hunch Amazon will run a deal with their Echo prospects – so be on the lookout. I think they will deeply discount it (and it will sell out fast!) before the Holidays. If you’d like me to email you if I see any deals, email me and I’ll send you a message!
We have a few of these outlets in our home and I rave about them. We first got one for our daughter’s room because she would interrupt me every time she wanted to go upstairs at night and her lights weren’t on. This always happened when I was in the middle of cooking dinner and then I would forget what I was doing and need to regroup once I got back to the kitchen. We got her one of these outlets and have it linked to our Amazon Echo so all I need to do is say “Alexa, turn on her bedroom” and the lights go on. You are able to program these outlets on timers, and can turn them on/off when you are remote- which has been a huge convenience for me when I am arriving home and realize I forgot to leave the lights on in the house. Or when we are traveling and want to turn some lights on at various times. I am able to easily open the app and switch on the lights. There’s a few different types available, but we have the TP-Link Smartplug and have been happy with them.
At some point in my early days of recovery, I realized that I had “super human hearing” and I needed ear plugs to survive. My accident occurred on December 23, 2008 and the next day was Christmas Eve. I spent that day with my extended family and couldn’t function at the event. My aunt gave me a pair of cheap ear plugs she had laying around and I used them for a few weeks before I upgraded to an amazing pair given to me by a friend that is an Audiologist. They were custom fit to my ear canal and allowed me to enjoy life after PCS for YEARS. I just recently lost that pair and replaced them with these (Decibullz – Custom Molded Earplugs) which for the time being, have worked wonderfully. They molded to my ear canal easily and are under $30. If you are looking for a more expensive pair, similar to the ones my friend made me, I would recommend these. I have been meaning to get a new pair made, but had to wait until my post-partum pregnancy swelling to go down because it would’ve been a waste of money (apparently your ear canal swells too, who knew?!).
After my head injury, I couldn’t survive in public without my sunglasses. It took me awhile to realize it was even a trigger, but when I did, I started wearing my sunglasses everywhere and had multiple pairs (in the car, in my purse, a spare at home) so I had something to wear if I was caught in public without them (#memoryproblems). I was sensitive to all light, but in particular fluorescent lights were a huge trigger (think doctors offices and grocery stores). I’m not going to recommend a specific brand, but anyone recovering from a head injury would love a new pair of sunglasses. My sister just recently bought me another pair for my birthday and I LOVE them, even nine years out it’s still a great gift!
Donation to a charity
This is an item I LOVE and it’s what we did for our wedding favor when we got married in 2009. We donated to the BIANJ (Brain Injury Alliance of NJ) in lieu of favors and my sister actually just did this in May instead of a favor. There are a number of Brain Injury/TBI/Post concussion organizations that could benefit from a donation. The three I would recommend would be Brain Injury Association of America, or BIANJ. These organizations all promote brain injury awareness and the BIAA and BIANJ provide services to brain injured survivors. A third organization, PINK Concussions is one also worth noting because their mission has all of the necessary components to lead research and advocacy. They are currently in the earlier stages of a non profit and I am just recently becoming familiar with them.
This item is a bit of a stretch because I am putting a dozens of items under the umbrella of “Gift Certificates & Coupons” so my tenth gift idea includes “& more” but I didn’t think creating a list of “100 gift ideas for PCS Spoonies” was an efficient read. Gift certificates for yoga, meditation, massage or a salt cave session will be well loved, no matter the recipient because they will force a PCS spoonie to slow down and relax, which is much needed during recovery. As a Mom of three, I no longer splurge on these items when it comes to these things for myself. I also don’t have as much time as I used to so I am not able to do any of them as frequently as I would like, so being given a gift certificate to treat myself to any of them is thoughtful and soul nourishing (bonus if you plan to watch my kids!).
When I was finalizing my list, I polled the PINK Concussions support group I belong to on Facebook about their gift ideas for this holiday season and was inundated with an amazing list of ideas and products. A lot of the members chimed in with a number of the above recommendations, which confirmed my ideas that some of these items would be very much appreciated- but there were a few items that I didn’t think of that I want to include. One of the common themes in this group was the gift of “coupons” – whether for help with something around the house, meals, caring for children, a ride to a doctor’s visit, house cleaning, yard work, holiday decorating/preparation- pretty much any activity that someone would participate in, someone with PCS would LOVE it if you helped them complete it or did it for them. One thing I’d like to mention is if you do give a gift of offering a service, make sure that the timing works for the person you are giving the service to, which is why a coupon works well. They can use it at their leisure and schedule it accordingly.
A number of members also mentioned other items that would force PCS spoonies to relax- essential oils, silk pajamas, oil diffusers, eye masks, weighted blankets, fuzzy and non slip socks and heat wraps. All great ideas especially since relaxation is KEY during recovery and the busy holiday season.
A very special thank you to the following ladies from the PINK Concussions group that contributed some of the fabulous ideas listed above. Specifically, Jessica Heisler, Lynn Stevens, Lynn, Hainer, Kristina Steen, Quinna Phillips, and Allison M. I am sorry we connected under the unfortunate circumstances of a PCS support group, but I am so very grateful that my village includes you.
Be well, friends. Happy Shopping!
Please note some of the links in the post above are affiliate links, and I may receive a small commission based on purchases, view my disclosure policy here.