Gifts for Dialysis Patients: Thoughtful Ideas to Show You Care

Dialysis patients often have unique needs, so it can be challenging to find a gift that is both thoughtful and practical. Fortunately, there are many gifts for dialysis patients that can brighten their day and make their lives easier.

Consider gifts that help pass the time during treatment. Dialysis treatments can take several hours, so patients may appreciate a book, puzzle, or handheld game to help them stay entertained. Subscriptions to streaming services or audiobook services can also help pass the time during treatment.

There are plenty of cozy gift options to bring comfort during treatment. There are even greeting cards that can support kidney research.

Man receiving dialysis treatment.
Man receiving dialysis treatment. Credit: shanelkalicharan, Flickr.

Challenges faced by dialysis patients

If you have a loved one who is undergoing dialysis, you may be wondering what gifts would be appropriate to give them. Before we dive into gift ideas, let’s first understand the dialysis process and the challenges faced by dialysis patients.

Dialysis is a medical treatment that helps remove waste and excess fluid from the blood when the kidneys are no longer able to do so. There are two types of dialysis. One process takes several hours and is usually done three times a week at a dialysis center. The other process can be done at home, but it requires more frequent treatments.

Hospital sign pointing to direction of dialysis center.
Visiting a dialysis center. Credit: Paul McCoubrie, Flickr.

When someone tells you they are on dialysis treatments, it means they will be putting a lot of miles on. In the past, this meant going to larger cities to dialysis treatment centers. Luckily, some forms of dialysis require less travel.

Dialysis can be a difficult and time-consuming process, and patients often experience a range of physical and emotional challenges. Some of the challenges faced by dialysis patients include:

  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Muscle cramps
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Anxiety and depression
Woman going through dialysis treatmnt.
Special clothing for dialysis and comfort gifts are great ideas for dialysis treatments.

In addition to these challenges, dialysis patients must also adhere to strict dietary restrictions and fluid limits. This can make it difficult to enjoy certain foods and drinks, leading to frustration.

Choosing gifts wisely for dialysis patients

When choosing a gift for a dialysis patient, it’s important to keep these challenges in mind. Gifts that can help alleviate some of these hassles and symptoms, or make the dialysis process more comfortable and convenient are always appreciated.

Some gift ideas for dialysis patients include:

  • Gas cards
  • Comfortable clothing and blankets
  • Tote bag for the treatment center
  • Entertainment such as books, movies, and music
  • Personal care items such as lotion, lip balm, and hand sanitizer
  • Snacks and treats that fit within the patient’s dietary restrictions
  • A pill organizer to help keep track of medications
  • A reusable water bottle with measurements to help track fluid intake
  • A comfortable neck pillow or cushion for the treatment chair
  • A stress ball or fidget toy to help pass the time during treatment
  • A heating pad or hot water bottle for muscle soreness
  • A tablet to watch a movie, or stream online shows to help pass the time during treatments

Use any of these items to ssemble a dialysis gift basket or dialysis survival kit. By understanding the dialysis process and the challenges faced by dialysis patients, you can choose a gift that is thoughtful and practical.

Practical gifts for comfort and convenience

When considering practical gifts for dialysis patients, it’s important to prioritize comfort and convenience. Dialysis patients tend to feel cold when dialyzing. There are great ideas to help your friend feel warm and cozy.

Dialysis clothing options

Choosing the right clothing can significantly improve the comfort of dialysis patients.

Look for specialized clothing designed with easy access for dialysis treatment, such as dialysis shirts with access points for ports or catheters. These garments have left and right angled zippers right above the chest. You can see an example from Dialize Clothing. They even combine the style with a hoodie jacket for extra warmth for the patient.

Buying specialized dialysis clothing is not necessary; many patients make do with what is already in their wardrobes.

Elderly woman wearing stylish clothing for dialysis treatments.
This dialysis patient looks stylish with clothing that allows easy access to ports for treatments.

At the same time, getting a new outfit might be fun for a dialysis patient! You can still be fashionable going through dialysis.

Kidney.org recommends to “avoid wearing tight or constraining fabrics near your access area such as spandex. They have great ideas to work around the clothes you already have to stay comfortable:

If you have any questions about materials, sleeves or shirts, talk to your doctor, nurse, tech or social worker. 

For everyday dress (when not at the dialysis center), wear what makes you comfortable, as long as you don’t wear anything that would restrict blood flow on your access arm. Dialize Clothing is one source of specialized clothing for dialysis patients.

Blankets and warmth

Soft and cozy blankets can provide much-needed warmth and comfort during dialysis treatments. Opt for blankets made from gentle and breathable materials to ensure maximum comfort. Whether they’re snuggled up during treatment or relaxing at home, a soft blanket can make a significant difference in their comfort and overall well-being.

A teddy bear wrapped in a cozy blankets
Cozy blankets are one of the best gifts to give a dialysis patient.

A fuzzy blanket is wonderful, but there are other gifting options for warmth. Consider a warm shawl, a wearable blanket, or lap blankets. There are also cute dialysis-themed blankets to send hugs, love, and support.

Making your own blanket is another option. Custom-made quilts and crocheted afghans are a personal way to show support and care for dialysis patients.

Fun gifts for dialysis patients

Ever hear of kidney socks? Yes, it’s a thing!

I Heart Guts specializes in gifts with a body organ theme. Seriously, who would have thought? On their kidney socks page, they state, “Cute kidney socks make a fab gift for kidney donors, kidney patients, kidney doctors and anyone who loves kidneys!” Cool concept!

Don’t overlook cheeky survival t-shirts for a fun laugh. Enjoy goofy puns, such as “The struggle is renal!” or “One kidney club, ask me how to join.”.

Going through dialysis, kidney transplants, and kidney donations can be done with a sense of humor!

Nutritional gifts and food ideas

When it comes to gift ideas for dialysis patients, nutritional gifts and food ideas can be a great way to show your care and concern. Here are some ideas to help you get started:

Kidney-friendly snacks

Dialysis patients often have to limit their intake of certain foods, so finding snacks that are both tasty and kidney-friendly can be a challenge. Here are some ideas for snacks that are low in sodium, potassium, and phosphorus:

  • Fresh fruit, such as apples, grapes, and strawberries
  • Raw vegetables, such as carrots, celery, and bell peppers
  • Low-sodium crackers or rice cakes
  • Air-popped popcorn
  • Sugar-free gelatin or pudding cups
  • Nuts and seeds, such as almonds, cashews, and sunflower seeds (in moderation)
A spread of healthy fruits and vegetables.
A food gift for dialysis patients is always appreciated!

Dialysis-safe meal kits

Another great gift idea for dialysis patients is a meal kit that provides all the necessary ingredients for a healthy, kidney-friendly meal. Here are some meal kit delivery services that offer dialysis-safe options:

  • RenalChef offers meal kits that are low in sodium, potassium, and phosphorus, and are designed specifically for dialysis patients.
  • Dialysis-Friendly Meals offers meal kits that are low in sodium and phosphorus, and are suitable for people with kidney disease.
  • Healthy Chef Creations offers a renal diet meal plan that is low in sodium, potassium, and phosphorus, and is designed for people with kidney disease.

By giving the gift of healthy, kidney-friendly snacks and meals, you can help dialysis patients stay on track with their dietary restrictions and show them that you care about their health and well-being.

Personal care and wellness gifts

When it comes to gift-giving for dialysis patients, personal care and wellness items can be a thoughtful choice. These gifts can help promote relaxation, reduce stress, and improve overall well-being. Here are some ideas for personal care and wellness gifts that are perfect for dialysis patients.

Skincare products

Dialysis patients often experience dry, itchy skin due to the treatment process. Therefore, skincare products can be a great gift option for them. Look for gentle, fragrance-free products that are designed for sensitive skin. Moisturizing creams, lotions, and body washes can help keep skin hydrated and relieve itching. You can also consider gifting lip balms, hand creams, and foot creams to provide extra care for these areas.

Woman meditating on a couch, inset: aromatherapy collection.
Relaxation and stress relief items like massages, aromatherapy, and meditation products are the types of gifts to support the soul.

Relaxation and stress relief items

Dialysis patients spend a lot of time in treatment and may experience stress and anxiety as a result. Therefore, gifts that promote relaxation and stress relief can be very beneficial. Some ideas include:

  • Aromatherapy candles or diffusers with calming scents like lavender or vanilla
  • Weighted blankets or lap pads to provide a sense of comfort and security
  • Adult coloring books and colored pencils to help reduce stress and anxiety
  • Stress balls or fidget toys to help relieve tension and anxiety
  • Guided meditation CDs or apps to promote relaxation and mindfulness

By choosing personal care and wellness gifts for dialysis patients, you can help them feel more comfortable, relaxed, and at ease during their treatment. These gifts can help improve their overall well-being and show them that you care.

Festive and holiday gift ideas

If you have a loved one who is on dialysis, you may be wondering what kind of festive and holiday gifts you can give them. Here are a few ideas that can help you show your love and support during the holiday season.

In addition to the usual fare of comfort gifts, you can also decorate their dialysis station with festive decorations. Consider putting up a small Christmas tree or hanging some lights to help brighten up their space and make it feel more cheerful.

Elderly grandparents receiving a hug from young granddaughter in front of Christmas tree.
Don’t forget the holiday season to give a Christmas gift to a dialysis patient.

Kidney research Christmas cards

If you’re looking for Christmas cards that support kidney research, the National Kidney Foundation offers a variety of cards that you can purchase online. These cards feature beautiful designs and help support a great cause.

Here are some online websites that offer general greeting and thank you cards, as well as Christmas cards:

Kidney research Christmas cards.
Kidney research Christmas cards that benefit charity.

Increase your donation by removing the cost of a card and applying it to an E-Card. You simply donate what you would have spent on paper greeting cards. Don’t Send Me A Card is an online platform that allows the sending of charity eCards (you can donate the cost instead to the organization of your choice). Kidney Research UK is one charity that encourages this.

Search for your favorite charity here: Don’t Send Me A Card Charities. I was able to locate a charity for PKD (Polycystic Kidney Disease). PKD is a chronic kidney disease due to a common genetic disorder. As it turns out, a family my husband grew up with has the genetics in their family. Three of the six kids have been diagnosed with it.

Always research the charity before you make a donation. Some of the charities are outside of the United States. If you want your donation to stay the U.S., double-check where they are based.

Granddaughter supporting grandmother who is taking dialysis treatments
Loved ones, family, and friends want to support dialysis treatment patients.

As an alternative to cards, you can make a direct donation, and most often in a person’s name or as a memorial. See how the PKD Foundation has it setup if you are interested. Or donate to the National Kidney Foundation in New York.

Supportive gifts for emotional well-being

Consider these supportive gifts for the treatment journey. In addition, show your loved on that you care by becoming a dialysis advocate. Educating yourself about kidney disease and analysis is the best way to show someone you care. Doing things like posting facts about dialysis on social media is a way to promote education, and it doesn’t cost you anything to do!

Ideas below can provide entertainment and relaxation during dialysis sessions:

  • Inspirational books and media that focus on uplifting stories or motivational quotes
  • audiobooks or subscriptions to streaming services
  • hobby kits and activities (painting, knitting, or puzzle sets)
  • brain teaser books, crosswords
  • humorous books, like The Far Side
Two older female friends share a supportive hug.
A good friend will want to help you and support you on your dialysis journey.

In addition, small things you do can make a difference. Curating a list of awesome podcasts, books, and products. Help with technology so your loved one can relax and not be frustrated trying to get things to work.

Helping with the confusing world of health insurance, transportation costs, and prescription medications is another huge way to help someone who needs to keep the focus on their health.

Free stuff for dialysis patients

Help your friend on dialysis by making them aware of free stuff they can get. The financial burden of a health crisis may already be pulling them down. Sending a few free things your way

Other people who have gone through dialysis are happy to share their tips. Eric from Kidney Story has some freebies and tip sheets he has made available to help new patients on their journey.

Gifts celebrating medical milestones

When someone you know has undergone a kidney transplant, it’s a significant moment in their life. It’s a moment that deserves to be celebrated and commemorated. Here are some gift ideas to help you celebrate this medical milestone with them.

Young woman sharing high-fives at success of completing dialysis treatments.
Completing dialysis treatment, or a successful kidney transplant, are reasons for celebrating these important milestones.

Kidney transplant commemoratives

A kidney transplant is a life-changing event, and a commemorative gift is a great way to celebrate it. A personalized plaque or a custom-made piece of jewelry can be a great way to commemorate the occasion. You could also consider a custom-made photo album or a scrapbook to help them remember this momentous occasion.

Another great idea is to give them a kidney transplant survivor t-shirt. These t-shirts are a great way to show their pride in their transplant and to raise awareness about the importance of organ donation.

Dialysis milestone markers

For those who are still undergoing dialysis, there are still many milestones to celebrate. Whether it’s their first year on dialysis, their 100th treatment, or their last treatment before a transplant, these moments are worth celebrating.

If your loved one is celebrating a kidney transplant anniversary, consider throwing them a party to celebrate this important milestone. You can decorate with balloons and streamers, and serve their favorite foods and drinks. You can also create a memory book or video that highlights their journey and achievements.

Another great gift idea is to create a personalized piece of jewelry or artwork that commemorates their journey. You can include their name, the date of their transplant, and any other meaningful symbols or images.

Acknowledging milestones are important. It can be a long journey, and supporting your friend or family for the long hault shows you care.

Budget-friendly gift options

If you’re looking for affordable gift options for someone going through dialysis, there are plenty of options available that won’t break the bank. Here are some ideas that are both thoughtful and budget-friendly.

DIY and handmade gifts

One of the best ways to show someone you care is by making a gift for them yourself. Not only is it more personal, but it can also be more affordable.

Here are a few ideas:

  • Knit or crochet a cozy blanket or scarf
  • Create a scrapbook or photo album filled with memories
  • Make a homemade candle or soap
  • Paint a picture or create a piece of art
  • Write a heartfelt letter or poem
  • Assemble a dialysis gift basket or dialysis survival kit

These gifts are not only budget-friendly, but they also show that you put time and effort into creating something special for your loved one.

The gift wrap up

Anyone going through dialysis needs a little extra TLC. Show your support thought comfort gifts, humor, or doing little acts of kindness. All will be appreciated!

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!