A RiverWoods Senior Living Community resident is help Alzheimer’s and dementia patients through her love of sewing and art. 80-year-old Ann Doebler has been busy making fidget quilts and activity blankets, which provide sensory and tactile stimulation for the restless hands of someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia.
Ann said she wanted to learn more about Alzheimer’s and decided to go to a support group meeting. It was there that she learned about some of the things people with Alzheimer’s are dealing with, including restless hands and anxiety. She then visited the Memory Care Residence at RiverWoods and noticed many of the residents in Memory Care were regularly moving their hands.
Ann came up with an idea on how she could help, by providing sensory blankets to the residents. Many years ago, Ann decided to go to back to school at Bloomsburg University and received an art degree. She said, “After discovering I really liked art, I started finding objects such as beads and old jewelry and transformed them into art.” When Ann moved to RiverWoods, people started donating buttons, beads, ornaments and jewelry for her to use in her artwork. Ann now uses many of those items on the fidget quilts.
She said, “If you run your hands over all of the textures and items sewn onto the quilt, that’s soothing and comforting to them. They love moving things back and forth. When I know the person a little bit, that I’m designing for, I will gear the quilt to match the person.”
Ann recently made a blanket for a car enthusiast. She was able to get fuzzy dice that you would find in a sports car. She also put a jeans pocket on the quilt and put a matchbox car inside. Ann added an old wrist watch too, and was told by nurses in Memory Care that the owner of the quilt frequently looks at the watch throughout the day, which is comforting for them. Ann said, “I also designed a blanket for a man who was a fisherman. I got an old fishing license to put on it, along with some fishing lures in different textures.”
The fidget blankets are made for those living in the Memory Care Residence at RiverWoods. Ann said, “This is definitely enjoyable for me. I’ve lived at RiverWoods for four years and I look forward to spending time in the craft studio here. I’m glad I can help comfort some of the residents dealing with restless hands and anxiety.”