Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Gift Ideas for Dialysis Patients / those with renal and kidney disease

FTC disclosure:  This post contains affiliate links.


I know this is a narrow field, but I wanted to include gift ideas for those on dialysis and with kidney disease.  My mother was on dialysis and people often didn't know what to get her, and often bought her gifts that weren't really the best for her when a small change would have made a gift so much better and useful with the dietary restrictions on those with kidney failure.  Here are some ideas my mother would have liked.  These might vary from gifts that are GOOD for dialysis patients such as a water bottle that lets you know how much you have drunk, because my mother wouldn't have liked that.  But hopefully these ideas can give you ideas for gifts you may not have thought of but will be well loved.

Here are some ideas:

1.  Long sleeved sweatshirts, sweaters, dress shirts, and blouses.   Most dialysis patients have very bruised arms and they like to keep them covered.  Don't overlook shops that cater to Jewish and Muslim women.  They may have some very lightweight long sleeved shirts that are great for summer as the average American doesn't wear long sleeves in summer, finding something appropriate for hot weather can be difficult to find.  Kosher Casual makes "sleevies" (sleeve extensions) which can turn a favorite short sleeved shirt into a long sleeved one.

2.  A blanket with sleeves (such as a Snuggie)   I would suggest this in black because it could get blood stained during dialysis.  Or go with a fun design such as this Superman blanket with sleeves.

3.  A dialysis cookbook.   My mother got tired of the same meals all the time and ideas for new foods aren't always easy to come by because of the dietary restrictions.  Even better is for you to read it before giving it to them, and make them a meal from it -- or a meal each month for a year

4.  Dialysis patients are limited on how much water / liquid they should drink.  A gift basket with things like Lemonheads,  candy sticks, strawberry candy, and Jolly Ranchers. are all appreciated since it's common for their mouths to be dry.  (Stay away from chocolates.) . You might want to add a toothbrush if you give candy as a reminder to brush their teeth.  Also, gum created to relieve drymouth, dry mouth lozenges, and anything by Biotine make great stocking stuffers.

5.  Meat.   Many dialysis patients need extra
iron and protein.  Some nice steaks, pork chops, etc. would usually be welcomed.  (Stay away from ham as it is usually very salty.)  If you aren't sure what types of meat to get, a gift card to a grocery store would be a great idea.

6.  Many have smart phones these days, but if the person does not, it's cheaper than ever to purchase a Kindle Fire. A subscription to Kindle Unlimited means for $10 a month, they would have as much reading from the Kindle Unlimited program as they want.  Another idea would be a subscription to Audible because they could "read" without having to hold anything.  Another great idea is good wireless headphones or earbuds.  A dialysis center can be a bit of a noisy place, and noise cancelling headphones could also be a welcome gift.

7.  Since they are limited on sodium, a gift basket of low sodium items are always welcome.  Things like Mrs. Dash seasonings and any items that say "no salt added" to them.  There's often a little sodium in most things, so to get things that are totally sodium free are a little difficult to find.  Also, read labels to make sure the potassium hasn't been increased in to make up for the lack of sodium.  It was often difficult for us to find canned vegetables that had no salt added, and I was out of town one time and saw several varieties that we couldn't find in our area.  Mom asked me to bring home 24 cans of each!

8.  Dialysis patients are often on a large number of medicines.  I wish I would have known about this medication alarm clock for my mother.  It tracks up to six medicines a day, and would have made things easier on both of us!  This 31 Day Pill Organizer is unique in the fact that you can see at a glance if you have taken all your medicine for that day, and it also offers three pill compartments for 31 days.  If their insurance only will pay for refills every 30 days, it might be more practical to get an extra large medication sorter.  Many times the 31 day med organizers won't have enough room for all of the pills a dialysis patient must take.

9.   Gift cards!   The person often doesn't have a lot of extra money and they know what they need or would enjoy, so if you aren't sure, give a gift that allows them to do the choosing.  Think practical places, such as the grocery store, their pharmacy, Amazon, Dollar General, Walmart, Target, a gas station, or even their favorite restaurant.  Another idea would be a "care package" of things they would need to purchase, but might be of better quality than what they could usually afford.  Things like dishwashing liquid, dishwasher tabs, laundry detergent, toothbrushes, cosmetics, etc.  Just find out if there are any allergies or favorite brands before you do this.  If there is a place they can eat out, you might want to think about a gift card there.  There is a convenience store in our area that sells subs and Mom loved the chicken salad.  It was within her dietary restrictions, but she felt guilty for spending $3 on a sandwich because finances were so tight.

10.  Fun and dialysis don't seem to go together, but Zazzle has a few fun items such as this Dialysis Patient By Day, Gamer By Night t-shirt.

Amazon has this funny "Dialysis is a Big Pain in the A__ (arm)" shirt.  Anyone who has been on dialysis would agree it's a pain in the arm (as well as what you thought when you saw this shirt.)

Another item many dialysis patients need is a tote bag because they take different items with them to dialysis.  This "Dialysis isn't for sissies" tote bag might be just the thing to add a smile to what can be an often dismal situation.

11.  Another idea is not all dialysis patients can afford the supplemental nutrition drink Nepro.  It is not always covered by insurance, and helps replace nutrients lost during their therapy.  Not a fun gift, but if their insurance doesn't cover it -- and my mother's insurance didn't cover it --, it would certainly be appreciated.  Sometimes you can find it cheaper on eBay.  This isn't exactly cheap, so price comparison is wise.

12.  Because dialysis patients are limited on fluid intake, anything to make their liquids last longer can be a fantastic gift.   One year for Christmas I gave my mother the Zoku Quick Ice Pop maker with an assortment of sugared sodas (it doesn't work with diet) to make flavored ice pops.  These are created in minutes and were a huge hit with her. Mom also loved her ice shaver.  I bought this adorable Retro Nostalgia electrics snow cone maker.  It's super easy to use and it's table top size so you can make enough for just one ice "snowball" if you want.  Because it's so cute, it could be left on a countertop to be used daily. 
13. My mother was a dialysis patient who had trouble keeping her iron levels high enough.  While cast iron cookware wouldn't have been the total answer, it would have helped her receive more iron in her diet without realizing it.  So, checking to find out if the person you are gifting has low iron count and if they don't have cast iron cookware is also a good gifting idea.

If in doubt, ask the person on dialysis or their caregiver.  Don't think things are "too practical" or "not fun enough".  Remember, most dialysis recipients are on Medicare or Medicaid.  There isn't a lot of extra money most of the time, and getting something you might consider to be an everyday thing could be a huge treat to them.  Many times, my family would ask what my mother would want for Christmas.  They didn't like my suggestions, and ended up giving my mother things she wasn't able to use for one reason or another.  (An example is short sleeved shirts -- she only wore those to dialysis and she was ashamed of how her arms looked so she always wore long sleeves -- even in summer.)  Another family member bought groceries but tended to purchase things high in sodium and potassium -- two things my mother was to avoid.  Trust me, anything that improves the quality of life or makes a dialysis patient happier is money much better spent than on the traditional gifts.  Sure, a case of nutrition supplements might not be what you consider fun, but if that's something the ill person has difficulty purchasing, it will be greatly appreciated.


  1. i like the T-shirt . Lets people know they still have a life . My family is riddled with kidney disease - I am one of the lucky ones- so far. This is a great blog, thanks for posting it.

    1. I know, that shirt is really great. Someone might be on dialysis, but doesn't mean they give up their hobbies and interests!

  2. Some really great gift ideas that I wouldn't have thought of. Thank you.

  3. These are great ideas, however I must add here to NOT GIFT THESE PEOPLE CANDIES to releive dry mouth! I’m a dental hygienist and it’s important to understand that the lack of saliva, or having dry mouth, is mainly due to medication. When there isn’t much saliva production, there is a HIGHER risk of developping cavitites in the teeth because saliva actually neutralizes the acidity cause by decay-making bacteria in the mouth (which causes cavities). Adding to this situation sweet and sticky foods or drinks only makes the development of cavities greater since the sugar in those foods gives those decay-making bacteria more energy without any protection from the lack of saliva. A BETTER ALTERNATIVE would be to gift Lubricants for dry mouth such as products from the brand Biotene (a mouth wash that lubricates), or Xylimelts (which are little oral-adhering disks or drops that stick to your teeth or gums to relieve persistent dry mouth) which provides long lasting lubrification while preventing cavities! I hope this is useful to people who currently have dry mouth. :)