I’ve heard about the benefits that fidget quilts or touch quilts offer to dementia/Alzheimer’s patients. In late summer, I got to see the results first hand.
My 86 year old mom was hospitalized in August of this year. Besides having several debilitating health issues, she also exhibited symptoms of dementia. In the past four years, she was often in a mental fog, had dreadful hallucinations of bugs flying around her head and was scared to leave her home. (The one true blessing, though, is that she never forgot any of her kids’ or grandkids’ names.)
I pulled out some remnants from my stash…vintage, yellow chenille – which is very tactile, lace and buttons, crocheted flowers and the like. Sewing began on a 12″x12″ piece of muslin fabric as the base and was built from there. It’s a little like making a crazy quilt, without the smaller fabric patches or seam embellishments. Once the small quilt top was finished, placing right sides of the quilt top and backing together, I stitched along the perimeter, leaving a small opening in the seam. Flipping the right side to the top, I hand stitched the gap closed. It was pressed as flat as I could get it.
I found a few other items in my sewing boxes that I knew my Mom would particularly love. She used to hang clothes on the line to dry when we were kids. Basically, rain, sleet, snow or ice she’d have clothes hanging on the line. In fact, in the winter, she’d bring in our jeans and towels and t-shirts, frozen solid! Given that, a trio of plastic clothes pegs sewn to the top of the fidget quilt seemed appropriate.
My brother, who was my Mom’s caretaker through all the tough years, brought the fidget quilt to the hospital. It was really the first time she’d used it. Mom, who was also blind, held that little quilt in her lap, rubbing the fabric together between her fingers. trying to guess what some of the objects were. My Dad sat in the chair beside her hospital bed saying things like, “Rita, Kim stitched on some flowers for you.” Or, “Rita, can you feel these little clothes pegs?” She made some “ooohs” and “awes” while she felt her way around the tiny quilt top. It kept her busy while she lay in her hospital bed and distracted her from pulling on the plastic tubing that was attached to her nose to help her breathe.
My mom passed away August 15th in the Rockyview Hospital. Our family was called early that morning to come and say our goodbyes. Driving down Crowchild Trail towards the hospital, we were all greeted with the most beautiful sunrise. It became immediately clear to me that it was time for Mom to go. She had struggled for so long with her failing health. She left this world exactly the way she wanted to.
Bottom line? If you have a loved one who is struggling with the ravages of dementia or Alzheimer’s, stitch them a fidget quilt to keep their hands busy. Do it sooner than later. You will be so gratified by their reaction.
Need some fidget quilt inspiration? Here is a link to my pinterest where I’ve pinned a few of my favorites – https://www.pinterest.ca/kimhansonquilts/