Comforting and Practical Gift Ideas for the Bedridden

Coming up with wonderful gift ideas for a bedridden friend is hard. That was me, until I dug a little deeper, and came up with a cart-load of fun gifts to pass the time while stuck in bed.

Being bedridden is a boring and a lonely situation to be in. Whether it’s temporary or long-term, a thoughtful gift means a lot.

When choosing a gift for someone who is bedridden, it’s important to keep their physical limitations in mind. Consider gifts that can be enjoyed from the comfort of their bed, such as books, movies, or puzzles. You can also give practical gifts that can make their life easier, such as a bed tray or a comfortable pillow.

Bedridden patients don’t want you to feel sorry for them. Give the gift of empathy, not sympathy! Putting yourself in their shoes can be the greatest gift you can give. Whatever gift you choose, the most important thing is to show your loved one that you care and are thinking of them during this difficult time.

Caregivers: I wish I could hug each and every one of you. Whether you are caring for mom or dad, grandpa or grandma, a friend, or bedridden patient – you rock.

Thinking about my own nephew, who is long-term bedridden, really helped to unlock this article. When you understand their side of it, it’s easier to come up with gifts that are really useful.

If you felt that this article was super helpful, please share my cool gift website that thinks outside of the gift box – GiftGivingSucks.com

Note: this is not a medical website and I do not give out medical advice. The scope of this article does not cover specific advice for bedridden individuals who need professional medical care. Lifting, turning, physical exercise, and certain hygiene needs must be done by a trained professional, or under the guidance of a trained professional.

Bedridden: the emotional challenges

Everyone’s reason for being bedridden can be different. It’s worth noting that these can range from a brief confinement to long-term bed confinement. Below, I dive into each unique case. Finding the right gift will be easier with a better understanding of what it entails to be bedridden.

The gift of your time

In all of these cases, you can give the gift of time. If the person needs to do physical therapy, you may be able to assist. Besides physical gifts, just ask what you can do for them. Help them out with some everyday tasks they have trouble doing on their own.

I love the idea that Spoonful of Comfort shares: keep them updated about what’s going on.

When you’re bedridden, in a nursing home, or in the hospital, it’s easy to feel detached from the outside world. One of the easiest action to take is to send routine updates about what’s happening with the rest of their friends and family.

Elderly man watching as hired maid cleans the room.
There are many acts of kindness to help someone bedridden.

Pick up the phone and make a call, send and email, or text. Dish on the latest gossip, ask them about their food, check on their progress. Spoonful of Comfort also suggest to “Try to gather well-wishes from their other friends and family if you can, too.”

If the person can’t have visitors or you live a distance away, write them letters. When my dad had a terminal illness, a good friend wrote him periodic letters. The letters covered anything and everything that went on her life and were often three pages long. My dad loved the letters and the distraction they brought him.

Consider sitting and reading to them. Make it a standing date where you can share in the surprises of a book together. Or share movie watching together. Both are opportunities to strike up a conversation about thoughts on the book/movie.

I had a friend who cleaned houses for the elderly. She became close friends with each and every one of them. They often would make treats or a meal and invite her to stay. Some family hire cleaning services with the excuse of getting another person into the house that can provide social contact.

Do favors for them

Maybe they need some clothing mended, would like some recipes typed out, or papers sorted, or fix something broken in the home. Even the most stubborn person will ask for help when bedridden.

There could be family at home that could really used a home-cooked meal while mom or dad are on the mend. Maybe they need their mail picked up – it won’t be difficult to come up with a short list of to-do’s. Don’t hesitate to circle back and ask again what their needs are.

Gifts that speak to their heart

Consider inviting a therapy dog to the bedridden person’s room. This can be game changing for person’s struggling with mental health.

Maintaining personal hygiene is vital to feeling better about one’s self. Having someone stop in to style or cut their hair goes a long way to feel human again.

Don’t miss my companion article on engaging activities for bedridden adults and children!

Bedridden short-term gift ideas

Once in awhile, a friend or family member will be confined to bed rest. It may be so temporary, that they are recovered and back up, returning to daily life. No one may even have known about their flu, covid, or another illness that briefly set them back.

Other circumstances, such as an injury or recovery from surgery, also promise a return to normal life after a period of rest.

A pregnant woman can be confined to bed rest for a few weeks or several months. Bedrest for a pregnant woman can help alleviate stress on the body and reduce the likelihood of certain pregnancy-related complications. The promise of a healthy baby makes the sacrifices tolerable.

Pregnant African American woman confined to bedrest.
A pregnant woman confined to bedrest in the interest of her health and her unborn child.

Pregnant women appreciate all the comfort gifts for a bedridden person. They also will appreciate any help with small children at home and household chores while they’re on bedrest. A meal service can really help the family cope with the temporary inconvenience of mom resting.

Pregnant women also enjoy hair clips to pull their hair back, journals to write to baby, books to learn about parenting, baby name books, and stretch mark cream for her pregnancy belly.

As boring as bedrest is, temporary bedrest will come to an end, and full mobility will return. Loved ones can alleviate some of the boredom through games, visits, and entertainment.

Gift ideas for bedridden seniors

Confinement to bed can become more complicated for elderly persons. Bedridden seniors with conditions such as dementia and Alzheimer’s will the lack the comprehension to understand why they are confined to bed.

Nurse attending to a bedridden elderly man.
Skilled medical workers are trained to assist persons who are bedridden.

Other debilitating diseases, such as Parkinson’s Disease and Lou Gherig’s Disease reduce mobility. In addition, if the elderly person struggles with hearing and vision issues, activities become more challenging.

Confinement can compound the very real feelings of loneliness, isolation, and loss of freedom. In addition, older bodies take longer to heal. Finding the patience to accept a slow recovery (or no recovery) can lead to thoughts of depression.

Bedridden elderly, especially, may feel like they have lost their independence and freedom. If the elderly doesn’t accept technology as a distraction, look to other creative ways to brighten their days.

Elderly woman and her caregiver, sharing a comforting embrace.
This caregiver gives a supportive hug to a patient confined to bed.

Gift ideas for seniors with special needs:

Unique gift ideas for a patient with Alzheimer’s, dementia, or any other medical condition, may come from the person themselves. When an elderly dementia patient at my local nuring home continually talked about “her baby”, her family took action.

They bought the most realistic infant baby that they could find as a gift for her. She embraced the baby lovingly and carried it everywhere – she was thrilled (understand that to her, the baby was living – it gave great joy to her caregivers to find the right item to bring comfort to her).

A Grandpad is an awesome gift for seniors who find technology difficult. It is connected to the Internet, and only approved people can reach the owner. My elderly aunt stays in touch with her family and grandkids who send her texts, photos, and emails to the Grandpad. My aunt can also call me from the nursing home on it, just like a regular cell phone.

Don’t miss my companion article on engaging activities for bedridden adults and children!

Gift ideas for bedridden long-term

Some diseases, such as depression, severe chronic fatigue syndrome, obesity, rheumatoid arthritis, Muscular Dystrophy, and Cerebral Palsy are examples that can result in long-term bed confinement, among many other types of debilitating reasons. Reports of dealing with the side effects of “long Covid” are also sending more adults to full bed rest.

In these situations, persons are often in their own home and can be all ages. At times, they may require periodic hospital stays, or transition to nursing home care.

African American woman with oxygen mask on in hospital.
Long-term bedridden patient.

For persons dealing with a challenging disease, they may be able to continue to work at a job, and take care of their home. Their condition may be chronic and something they learn to live with. Bedridden patients may be forced to decrease their job load over time, or ultimately quit (or lose) their jobs. Daily household tasks might become impossible.

With long-term bed confinement comes long-term stress. The challenges of loss of income, navigating confusing insurance paperwork/benefits, and attempting to seek answers to medical conditions, affect mental health. Lacking the strength and stamina to tackle any of these issues leads to feelings of hopelessness.

Persons in long-term confinement need an advocate and a solid support system. Likely, these individuals can’t do the simplest of tasks. Give the gift of support:

  • regulary check in and visit them
  • offer to do errands
  • offer to research resources for support and supplies
  • decorate their room to make it more cheerful
  • locate possible employment that they can do from their bed
A woman in bed, talking on the phone.
Business and every day life happens from the bed when a person is bedridden.

Don’t miss my companion article on engaging activities for bedridden adults and children!

Comfort gifts for bedridden patients

The name of the game for a person on bedrest is comfort. This comes in the form of the right mattress, and lots of pillows and cushions for support.

Use of these specialized bedding products help prevent pressure sores, more commonly known as bed sores (or pressure ulcers). By distributing weight evenly, sores can be avoided.

According to the Mayo Clinic, bed sores can develop rapidly and are hard to treat. Anyone who has a limited ability to change positions or spends most of their time in a bed or chair is at risk Bed sores can develop over hours or day and some may never heal completely.

Luckily, some of the equipment for those bedridden can be rented through home health aid programs, or insurance will pay for some of it. Filling in the gaps with comfort gifts is a thoughtful thing to do.

Mattresses for bedridden

For bedridden individuals, a supportive and comfortable mattress is crucial for preventing bedsores and ensuring overall comfort. There are lots of specialty mattresses designed specifically for bedridden patients. These mattresses are adjustable, providing customizable support and pressure relief.

Brands of mattresses

TempurPedic is widely used in hospitals across the globe to prevent bed ridden patients from developing bed sores. Purple Mattress is a newer company that is gaining in popularity, so be sure to check them out. Shopping for a mattress can be very confusing. If you can try in the store, you can get a better feel for different softness/hardness levels.

Also consider calling the company and explaining your needs. they should be able to send samples to you to feel. Most of these companies also offer a trial period. Do your due diligence and visit product review sites and forums to get the real insight on mattresses for bedridden use.

Man confined to bed, holding hands with spouse.
Shopping for a good quality bed for someone bedridden is a primary need for the patient.

Mattress features to consider

Size of the mattress is an important factor to consider. Will the person be sharing the bed with their partner or by themselves? Many individuals like the option of skipping a twin bed and moving to a larger full or queen size to spread out or have a pet or activities nearby.

Consider the height of the bed and ease of getting in and out of it. Some companies are marketing beds with scents, such as lavendar. This doesn’t seem such a good idea, as people could be allergic to it, or visitors or home health care workers could not like it. Aromatherapy products can always be added to the room separately.

Don’t miss my companion article on engaging activities for bedridden adults and children!

Don’t overlook inflatable mattress choices that do well eliminating pressure points. Additionally, gel pads can be used to distribute pressure evenly and reduce the risk of developing bedsores. Beware of mattress toppers, invest in a quality bed to begin with for long-term service whose material won’t break down quickly.

One nurse in a forum advised to not buy a new fancy electric bed, which she considered not very safe for transfers for a debilitated person. She instead suggested to rent a hospital bed from a DME company (Durable medical equipment) or get medicare/insurance to pay for it (ask the doctor for an order for a bed).

Don’t forget that electric beds that raise the head and feet need specialty mattress bedding to fit. You might even have to order the bedding online. Some bedridden people enjoy the comfort of a heated mattress pad. Heat doesn’t work for everyone, but for medical conditions like arthritis, it can bring welcome comfort.

In the end, selecting a mattress is an individual decision. Adjustable beds can get very pricey, insurance may be able to pay for it. Do your research and ask others before making a big investment.

Bed pillows and support cushions

Bed sore pillows, also known as pressure relief pillows or cushions, are specially designed to help prevent and alleviate sores, also known as pressure ulcers or bedsores. These pillows are engineered to distribute pressure evenly and reduce the risk of skin breakdown, particularly in areas prone to developing pressure sores due to prolonged immobility.

They are often contoured or shaped to provide support and relieve pressure on vulnerable areas such as the tailbone, hips, and heels. (source: Pressure Sore Cushions).

Popular YouTubers Bob & Brad, physical therapists, demonstrate how to support a bedridden person in bed.

The ROHO brand is a highly recommended product to fight against the onset of bed sores. According to an abstract of the National Library of Medicine,Although the Roho cushion was prescribed most frequently, it was not recommended for all subjects.

Despite the success of the ROHO cushion, especially among quadriplegics, finding the best pillow plan is an ongoing journey. Bedridden patients will quickly find their favorites and the right configuration to work for them.

Here are some examples:

  • ROHO pressure sore cushions
  • specialty pressure sore cushions for bed
  • Obasan pillows natural organic pillows
  • Temperpedic pillow
  • memory foam pillows
  • Specialized back support cushions
  • body pillows
  • Bloomingdale down alternative pillows
  • foam wedge for bed
  • cylindrical bolster pillow
  • knee pillows
  • lumbar pillows

Accessories and useful gifts for bedridden patients

Looking for easy-to-reach bedside gifts for someone confined to bed? These accessories can make life much easier for someone confined to bedrest.

Elderly bedridden woman talking to daughter.
Accessories for bedridden patients help make being confined to bed more bearable.

Consider this list of helpful items to make a bedridden person more comfortable:

  • back scratcher
  • neck massager**
  • grabber tool
  • maid service
  • Zero odor spray
  • ready made meals
  • bell to ring for assistance
  • eye mask to block out the lights
  • disposable ear plugs
  • sound machine
  • adjustable headboard reading light
  • vibrating back massage pillow**
  • pictures of family
  • heated blanket
  • infrared heating pad
  • air purifier with remote
  • humidifier
  • mini fridge next to bed
  • fly swatter
  • remote control light bulbs
  • remote control for fan
  • rolling bed table
  • laptop desk for bed
  • charging station
  • magnetic charger for phone/tablet 
    (for ease of use)
  • laptops, tablets, TV
  • ereader
  • smartphone*
  • Grandpad***
  • phone or ipad stand
  • TV remote
  • ear buds
  • foot and leg massager**
  • soft socks
  • essential oils diffuser

*A smartphone can be used to control all kinds of smart technology from the bed, such as the lighting, or talking to someone at the door or security cameras.

**Massagers not only relax, they are critical for promoting circulation, especially for the bedridden. Use under a doctor’s guidance.

***A Grandpad is an awesome gift for seniors who find technology difficult. It is connected to the Internet, and only approved people can reach the owner. My elderly aunt stays in touch with her family and grandkids who send her texts, photos, and emails to the Grandpad. My aunt can also call me from the nursing home on it, just like a regular cell phone.

A voice activated home automation system for bedridden patients may also be something to add to the home for convenience for the family.

Teen bedridden, looking at his cell phone.
Teens confined to bedrest will enjoy video games, TV, and cell phone use.

Personal hygiene gifts for bedridden patients

When someone is bedridden, it can be challenging to maintain personal hygiene. Personal care products can help individuals feel clean and refreshed. Here are some personal care products that could be useful for bedridden patients.

Woman brushing hair in bed.
Hygiene and personal grooming can be challenging while bedbound.

Personal care

Hygiene aids are products that can help with hygiene tasks such as bathing, oral care, and hair care. Here are some hygiene aids that could be helpful for bedridden patients:

  • Dry shampoo for bedridden patients: Bedridden patients may not be able to take a shower or bath, but they can still keep their hair clean with no-rinse shampoos. These shampoos are applied to the hair and then towel-dried, eliminating the need for water.
  • Hair wash for bedridden patients: For bedridden patients who are unable to use a traditional shower or bath, a no-rinse hair wash can help keep their hair clean.
  • Hair wash basins for beds. Inflatable bedside hair washing basins provide and eash way to give a refreshing real water bath to bedridden adults and children.
  • Mouthwash for bedridden patients: Oral care is important for bedridden patients to prevent infection and maintain oral health. A no-rinse mouthwash can help bedridden patients maintain good oral hygiene.
  • Portable folding vanity mirror makes it more convenient for the bedridden to take care of their hygiene needs
  • Fun facial masks come in a wide selection of fragrances, ingredients, and even Christmas and Halloween themes!
  • Eye gel pads for puffy eyes and dark circles may be just the little pick me up to tuck into a gift basket
  • Toothbrush for adults with disabilities

Don’t forget a spa day! Paint toenails, give a mani/Pedi, or give a foot massage. Splurge for a massage therapist to give an in-home body massage.

Comfy robe and slippers for being bedridden.
Perfect clothes to wear when bedridden: a soft robe and comfy slippers.

Bathroom needs

Using the bathroom is one of the biggest problems for a bedridden person to deal with. Beridden persons are grateful for any gifts that can maintain their personal dignity.

Some bed bound people can use a portable toilet/or commode next to the bed. If they are strong enough, they can get to the bathroom if it’s close. Some use briefs (adult diapers) or pads that are placed underneath them. In some cases, a bedpan must be used to be place under the person while in the bed. Others use catheters. A lot of people will use some combo of the above.

I hunted around and found this article, “Guide to Bedpans and Bedpan Alternatives.” It’s actually a pretty good article. They offer very common-sense how-to information to assist someone needing to use a bedpan. I know that there are family who are caregivers that have to rise to the occasion and help their loved ones with their bathroom needs.

My respect to persons in the nursing field who assist with bathroom needs. Many nurses and caregivers can give great tips on products and methods for toilet care. Refer to online forums where these experienced people offer unbiased advice.

Seeking information about toilet products is an important job that can help a loved one who is bedridden. There will be trial and error involved, which may end up in a compromise of products.

I wish I could offer great advice for a female urinal for bedridden, which seems to garnish a lot of interest. Unfortunately, I can’t give a solid recommendation. I can offer the advice to avoid a unisex model. The female urine bottle typically has a wider neck and aperture more favorable to females.

Caregiving assisting elderly man in chair.
Caregiver assisiting elderly man with his toiletry needs.

Recommended diapers: Northshore mega max, Abena Abri-Form Premiums and FitRight Ultra briefs

Many health care professionals recommend the PureWick external catheter system, but many people cannot afford the catheters.

Clothing for bedridden

When it comes to apparel for bedridden patients, comfort and functionality are key. Here are some apparel items that could be useful for bedridden patients:

  • Gowns for Bedridden Patients: Gowns can make it easier for bedridden patients to change clothes and receive medical care.
  • Adaptive clothing: This is an option to have something other than pajamas to wear. Adaptive clothing looks like regular clothing, but designed with snaps for people with disabilities to get dressed by themselves. Some options include openings for ports, such as for people on dialysis.

Overall, personal care products can help bedridden patients maintain their personal hygiene and feel more comfortable. When choosing personal care products, it’s important to consider the patient’s individual needs and preferences.

Health and wellness gifts

Caring for health and wellness is essential when you are bedridden. You may not be able to move around as much, but there are still exercises you can do to keep your muscles active and maintain your overall health.

Yoga is another great way to stay healthy and active while bedridden. There are many yoga poses you can do while lying in bed, such as the reclining hand-to-big-toe pose or the reclining bound angle pose. These poses can help improve your flexibility, reduce stress, and promote relaxation.

A gift of a massage therapy session can be remarkable for someone bedbound. All types of massage gifts such as rollers, may be a nice addition to the bedside. Note that for some persons with thin skin, or chronic pain, a massage may actually hurt.

Yoga in bed may be an option for some bedridden individuals – always check with your physician.

Nutrition and dietary gifts

It’s critical that the diet is balanced, and doesn’t make bathroom problems worse, such as a diet that causes constipation. In addition, being sensitive to allergies, medicine conflicts, and special diet requirements add another layer to consider for gifts.

Many people who are bedridden worry about gaining additional weight. Providing healthy food, interesting flavors and textures, along with beautiful food presentation, can add to the highlight of a bedridden person’s day.

Don’t miss my companion article on engaging activities for bedridden adults and children!

Healthy food delights

A basket of healthy snacks is a great way to show you care while also promoting healthy eating habits. Fill the basket with items such as fresh fruit, nuts, and whole-grain crackers. You can also include some healthy snack bars or homemade granola.

Instead of a snack basket, go with an edible arrangment for novelty. Online sites like EdibleArrangements.com specialize in beautiful food arrangements. With the popularity of charcueterie, finding beautiful and tasty food arrangements by a local food artist is possible.

A young female bedridden patient enjoying eating a meal in bed.
Bedridden persons need to maintain their health through smart food choices.

Or create your own beautiful food plate for fun! There are lots of unique picnic ideas and “tablescape” ideas for a very special food presentation gift that wows!

Carbonated water (and sodas if they can have them) give a nice “mouth feel” experience. If you’re looking for something different, set a tasting even by purchasing different brand and flavors (for example, cheeses). You can repeat this idea with different food themes.

When my mother was in the nursing home after a stroke, I packed up her good china and prepared a meal to share with her and my brother on the outdoor patio. Her china met everything to her and reminded her of many happy family gatherings.

The gift wrap up

Being confined to a bed can often lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness. Consider gifting items that encourage social interaction, such as a personalized photo album or a digital frame loaded with cherished memories. These can serve as a constant reminder of the love and support from friends and family.

A thoughtful gesture such as arranging virtual visits with friends and family through video calls can greatly contribute to the emotional well-being of the person who is bedridden. This can help maintain social connections and provide a sense of inclusion during a challenging time.

Lastly, give as much of your time as you can. It is the greatest gift of all.

Renee Cavvy
Renee Cavvy

Renee pulls no punches when it comes to challenging the social norms of gift giving. Her mission: putting an end to meaningless gifts and cutting through the fluff. This midwest mom offers novel and creative ideas to do gift giving better!