5 gifts that were a hit with my husband, who has ALS

Some winning gift ideas, from useful tools to sentimental notes

Kristin Neva avatar

by Kristin Neva |

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Thinking of gift ideas for my husband, Todd, has always been a challenge — especially since he’s been paralyzed by ALS.

Some of my gifts to him haven’t gotten much use, like a heated jacket that he found too hot. He used it a couple times when we went to hockey games, but he’s not otherwise out in the cold for an extended period.

Nevertheless, I have discovered some winning gifts for Todd, including:

Oversized, long T-shirts keep the bottom of Todd’s back warm while he’s in his wheelchair, and they are more comfortable when he’s being turned in bed at night. Todd is a man of average height, and if he were standing, he would fit nicely in a standard large shirt. But shirts have a tendency to ride up in the back when one sits, so long shirts work better for Todd. Having the shirts oversized makes them easier to get on, and they don’t bunch up around his armpits when he’s being turned at night.

I purchased Duluth Trading Company’s Longtail T shirts online. They are made with quality fabric and are the only shirts he wears.

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Small, light blankets cover Todd’s legs when he’s in his wheelchair. My daughter and I found several light blankets at Walmart, and he uses them nearly every day to cover his bare knees and lower legs. Years ago, Todd switched to using moisture-wicking shorts because they keep his bottom dry and prevent skin breakdown. If he goes out of the house, which is rare these days, we put on snap-up pants. But he typically stays at home in his gym shorts with a lap blanket over his legs.

A massage gun keeps his muscles relaxed. While breaking from the theme of keeping Todd warm, this gift is still about comfort. With ALS, muscles get tight and spastic. We found it helps to have Todd’s nighttime caregivers run the massage gun over his legs after putting him in bed. It helps Todd sleep, and it reduces the muscle fasciculations he typically experiences during the day.

Remote dog treat dispensers are designed for working people who leave their pets at home, but Todd keeps the device a couple feet from his computer, where he sits in his wheelchair. Todd and his dog, Comet, are office mates, and Todd can independently reward Comet for being a good boy by using an app on his phone. I purchased a Wopet dispenser, because it doesn’t require a subscription, and we fill the hopper with Zuke’s mini treats.

Chocolates with memories make the treats 10 times sweeter, according to Todd. For Valentine’s Day last week, I added sentimentality to the box of chocolates I gave him. I typed up and cut out a list of 26 memories and placed one under each chocolate, such as: “Our first date: Alison Krauss,” “Caramel apples in Cedarburg,” and “Taking the kids to the Science Museum of Minnesota.” We are still working our way through the box, and he smiles when he asks me to give him a chocolate and a memory.

Note: ALS News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of ALS News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to ALS.


Maggie Broeren avatar

Maggie Broeren

So thoughtful and sweet. TY!

Kristin Neva avatar

Kristin Neva

Thanks Maggie!

Mary Connolly avatar

Mary Connolly

Which massage gun did you end up purchasing? Knowing little about massage guns, I'd be interested in knowing if there are features to look for that are of particular benefit to a pALS. Same question to others on this thread and their massage gun recommendation(s)? Thanks!

Kristin Neva avatar

Kristin Neva

I just looked for one on Amazon that had good reviews. I think it was less than $100. It is no longer sold but looks similar to this: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09PLDC4FF/ref=sspa_dk_detail_3?psc=1&pd_rd_i=B09PLDC4FF&pd_rd_w=UlrY5&content-id=amzn1.sym.cdc5cf0d-2e61-40ba-9e0c-fad0d7ba7991&pf_rd_p=cdc5cf0d-2e61-40ba-9e0c-fad0d7ba7991&pf_rd_r=KQZA778NNHGDYWP1H34T&pd_rd_wg=1zZ25&pd_rd_r=dccd9575-7832-41ac-ba20-fad266c4104c

Want to look for something that doesn't just vibrate but has percussion.

Fran Finney avatar

Fran Finney

After my husband completely lost his ability to speak and move, he often lay awake at night, bored but unable to do anything. Nights went on forever, as he lay motionless n his hospital bed, while I slept in my twin bed beside him. Two gifts he really appreciated: a dynamic decorative xmas light display that projected onto the ceiling, and a lava lamp that we set up high, where he could watch it change from his position in bed.

Maggie Broeren avatar

Maggie Broeren

Having a seamstress who can modify clothes has been a wonderful gift.
Having friends and neighbors drop off a meal once a week has been very useful and tasty .

Erin T Lamoureux avatar

Erin T Lamoureux

You are an inspiration to me!
I am the sole provider for my husband with ALS.
Thank you for the good ideas; one day at a time!


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