Fidget quilts benefit residents

From L to R Eva Beeks, Della Catron, Wilda Buffo, and LaVona Morrison are each holding one of the lap/fidget quilts that they made. So far more than 10 lap/fidget quilts have been made.

From L to R Eva Beeks, Della Catron, Wilda Buffo, and LaVona Morrison are each holding one of the lap/fidget quilts that they made. So far more than 10 lap/fidget quilts have been made.

A project designed to help one resident with dementia wound up benefiting people throughout Arkansas City Presbyterian Manor.

Activity Director Lori Peters said it started with a woman who lives in the health care neighborhood. She was falling from her wheelchair because she was constantly leaning forward to pick at her pants legs or things she saw on the floor. So, staff members began to brainstorm about ways to keep her hands busy and keep her upright, but not restrained.

On the Internet, Lori found pictures of fidget quilts, with textures and shapes for people with dementia to touch and manipulate.

“It was a neat idea, but they were too big,” Lori said. “I thought, it can’t get caught in the wheelchair and it still could fall on the floor. How could we modify these?”

Lori realized a smaller version could be attached to the resident’s waist with a ribbon. She and activity assistant Rebecca Self took the idea to residents who like to sew. Lori and Rebecca showed the ladies pictures of fidget quilts, gathered a few supplies for them, and the ladies got to work.

The final products exceeded anything Lori had dreamed of.

The four seamstresses — Eva Beeks, Della Catron, Wilda Buffo, and LaVona Morrison — had fashioned some of the blankets to be worn more like aprons, for women. For the men, they made them out of old bib overalls. They attached all kinds of familiar items in fun ways, like an empty thread spool that slides up and down a piece of elastic. There are pockets, some of them transparent, with items attached inside. They added many textured fabrics, such as lace and fringe, plus buttons, snaps and zippers.

“These are things of an adult life — keys and crosses and fishing lures and sewing bobbins,” Lori said. “By doing it this way, we’re providing that dignity and respect of honoring them as an adult.”

The bib overalls was a stroke of genius, Lori said, because “putting this on is not out of the ordinary for them. It’s comforting.”

The sewing team, in turn, called in friends and family to help. One of the ladies set up an assembly line in her apartment with two friends, and they turned out six blankets/aprons in one day.

So far, 10 have been completed and distributed to health care and memory care. Lori said she loves how the project has integrated so many levels of resident life and care, as well as involving people in the surrounding community. And it’s been a meaningful way for the more independent residents to use their skills to help others.A few weeks ago, Lori took a finished apron to the resident they originally sought to help. When they walked in, she was leaning forward again in her chair. They put it on her, and she immediately started touching all the “fidgets” and tucking her hands in the pockets. She looked happy. When Lori left, she was still sitting upright.

A few weeks ago, Lori took a finished apron to the resident they originally sought to help. When they walked in, she was leaning forward again in her chair. They put it on her, and she immediately started touching all the “fidgets” and tucking her hands in the pockets. She looked happy. When Lori left, she was still sitting upright.”We were trying to solve a problem with a particular person, and it grew into something really good,” she said.

“We were trying to solve a problem with a particular person, and it grew into something really good,” she said.

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