Silent presence is always better than silent absence.
-Chaplain Steve Thorny

From "When Life Becomes Precious: The Essential Guide for Patients, Loved Ones, and Friends of those Facing Serious Illness" by Elise Needell Babcock:

Besides doing things for patients and caregivers, you can also give them gifts. The gifts can be expensive or inexpensive, large or small.if your own family's large, you may want to all chip in and share the cost of a more expensive gift. The most extravagant gift that a client of mine received was a two-week cruise, which was given to her after she recovered from surgery. Her five children shared the expenses. The children enjoyed seeing their mother's happiness almost as much as she enjoyed the trip. The least expensive gifts, however, can sometimes be the most meaningful. One patient's children always managed to round up their own kids and include them in long and delightful phone calls.

Other possibilities:

1. Give books. My clients loved getting uplifting novels, mysteries, biographies, and the latest best-sellers. Books with uplifting stories such as the Chicken Soup series are great gifts for patients and caregivers.

Offer to pick up and return library books or tapes. Many libraries have services for the homebound and will mail out books free of charge to patients. Help the person set up this service. When he finishes reading the book, offer to return it for him. Mailing it back can be burdensome.

2. Send humorous, entertaining, or inspirational magazines, newspapers, cards.

3. Give a gift basket. Include goodies such as a deck of cards, or an assortmentof teas, coffees, or wines.

4. Give a gift certificate to the family's favorite restaurant.

5. Give refundable or exchangeable tickets to the theater, opera, symphony, charity event or comedy club.

6. Supply the patient with listening materials.

7. Organize a resource notebook with a list of phone numbers and brochures from social service agencies and other resources that will save the family hours of research.

8. Give or make something personal, such as pictures drawn by your children, a poem, a small framed painting, a handmade sweater or shawl, or an heirloom.

9. Give fun clothes or accessories-T-shirts, sweats, earrings or jackets

10. When the person is in the hospital, bring special treats such as a cooler with sodas, a soft blanket, a humorous coffee mug, a clock radio with nature sounds, a pretty water pitcher, a hat, visor or cap with the logo of a favorite team or organization.

11. Bring a gift that will encourage patients and caregivers to do something good for themselves, such as a journal, nail, skin or hair products, a gift certificate to a beauty salon, or relaxation tapes.

12. Bring a board game, laptop computer, or card game.

13. Pick up notepaper, and help with addressing or writing correspondence.

14. Buy bedside supplies, such as Post-It notes large enough to make lists on, felt-tip pens, paper clips, a stapler, tape, spiral bound notebook, or Kleenex.

15. Give a sexy robe or slippers.

16. Fill the room with flowers or blossoming plants.

17. Give a box of thank you cards and a roll of stamps.

18. Send a gift certificate for a four-hour limousine ride, a massage, or a weekend getaway at a cozy hotel.

19. Give a donation to charity in the person's name.

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