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When Sonia Myers, a social worker with the Senior Mental Health Resource Team, reached out to Faith LeClair of Sew Blessed Quilters, she was just looking for a good deal on a fidget blanket for a single dementia patient.
Instead, she ended up receiving 15 quilts, made by LeClair’s sewing class for no charge.
“It certainly wasn’t asked for, but it was a very generous offer,” said Myers. “We’re very happy.”
Fidget quilts, also called sensory blankets, are used to help keep the minds and hands of dementia patients busy. They’re made with different fabrics, buttons, zippers, ribbons… anything a senior could use for their hands to play with.
Often, Myers said, the blankets are used in therapy, while a patient uses the blanket to reminisce about textures and feelings from their past.
“Sometimes, some folks that have dementia can have what we call responsive behaviours, and this helps them to stay focused so that they don’t have so much anxiety,” she said.
For LeClair, getting her sewing class to help go above-and-beyond what Myers was looking for was never in question.
“I was just happy to be able to help them out,” said LeClair.
LeClair had heard of fidget quilts before, but had never made one until approached by Myers. Fortunately, one of LeClair’s students, who lives in Australia, had and was available for video calls to give advice on what to include and what shouldn’t be on the quilt.
Things like pockets, LeClair said, are to be avoided so the patients can’t hide their medication in them.
The fidget quilts are not the first time LeClair has used her sewing class to give to the community. Every year for the last three years, she said, they have taken on a project, like sewing quilts for the credit union’s Christmas Tree of Hope or to help the local fire department.
“It’s so nice to know that you can do something with the talent that you have to make somebody else’s life a little bit easier.”
Super proud of my sewing girls❤. I received a call a few weeks ago saying there were some senior dementia patients that...Posted by Sew Blessed Quilters on Monday, March 22, 2021
Pat Adams, one of LeClair’s sewing students, said helping make the fidget quilts was a “no brainer.”
She, like LeClair, hadn’t made a fidget quilt before the class, but said making these for the patients was a good learning experience.
“It was something that we hope to do again sometime,” said Adams. “It’s just so great to give back.”
Her grandmother had dementia. She also works in a nursing home and often sees residents’ hands starting to busy themselves when they need stimulation.
“We’re pretty much all touched by someone that’s got dementia, or has had it,” said Adams.
Of the 15 quilts, Myers said four have already been given out, and another four will be donated shortly. Although she’d initially only requested one, she said all of them will find good use.
“I thought I was just going to be reaching out and maybe getting a better deal on a blanket, or find somebody that might be willing to donate one,” said Myers. “But to have this group donate all of these quilts is just amazing.”
Kristin Gardiner is the Journal Pioneer's rural reporter.
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