Volunteers create ‘fidget quilts’ for those with dementia, autism
STANDARD — Providing help and comfort can be complicated, but other times it can be surprisingly simple. With the latter in mind, volunteers at the Putnam County Community Center (PCCC) have recently begun making “fidget quilts.”
A fidget quilt, also known as a “busy blanket,” is a small, lap-sized quilt adorned with items that, when played, or fidgeted with, can provide dementia and autism patients with stimulation and a relief of pent-up anxiety.
Common items sewn to the panels of the colorful quilts include buttons, zippers, pockets, ribbons, bows, Beanie Babies, key chains, fringe, jingle bells, loops, lacing, beads and anything else that could be safely played with.
“My mother had Alzheimer’s, and she’d just lay in bed with her hands folded and nothing to do. I wish I’d have had something like this for her to use,” Carol Monaco, of McNabb, said.
The group of several volunteers began in December and is working with donated fabric and materials. As news of their creations has spread, the demand is growing. As some volunteers piece together and sew the body of the 18-inch by 24-inch quilts, others are choosing and pinning selected items in place before they’re finally secured.
While quilts are usually made with aesthetics and warmth in mind, the group enjoys the fun of selecting vibrant color and texture combinations, as well as searching for engaging, fidget-worthy embellishments.
“You’re helping them keep busy and giving a purpose, something for them to do,” Shauna Greenwood, of the PCCC, said.
Dementia patients, as well as those who are autistic, commonly suffer from agitation and anxiety. Providing them with something to focus their hands on can give an outlet and a relief of stressful energy and emotions.
Fidget quilts can provide Alzheimer’s sufferers, who are unable to properly convey their need for stimulation, with easy and safe assistance.
“They’re fun to make, and we’re hoping our purpose can help people who need it,” Kathy Van Benning, of Granville, said.
For anyone who’d like to join, donate materials, or request a fidget quilt, the group meets weekly from 10 to 11:30 a.m. on Thursdays at the PCCC.