Senior Living

Fidget Quilts bring comfort to dementia patients

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Anne Marie Rowe, seated, who started The Fidget Quilt Project, examines some of the work by talented quilters Annette Burns, left, and Rhonda Lowery.

Children are often calmed by their favorite toy or blanket.

Anyone who has cared for a loved one with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease knows that those same pleasures from childhood can often be a comfort to those who are in the final stages of their lives.

Anne Marie Rowe was desperately looking for something to give to her ailing father who was suffering from Alzheimer’s, something that would calm his fidgety hands. She had heard of fidget blankets/quilts, so she researched them and had one made especially for him.

It made such a huge difference for her father, and for other family members and friends, that she was inspired to launch The Fidget Quilt Project. It is part of the non-profit Rowe-Together Incorporated, which began in 2012, and is based in Newnan.

Fidget Quilts are made from a variety of textures and objects that dementia or Alzheimer’s patients find appealing as their once busy hands search for something to occupy them. As the disease progresses, the hands get more nervous and fidgety. Neuropathy can even set in.

In the latter stages of Alzheimer’s, patients have been known to pull on bed linens or clothes – or run their fingers up and down the sheets repetitively. Even though their minds have been impaired, their hands still search for items to manipulate.

The quilt is similar to a toddler’s “busy book” with activities like zippers, Velcro, laces, buckles, buttons, gloves, and items – such as stuffed animals – to place inside pockets. Fidget Quilts can be individualized to match a person’s interests or personality.

Fidget Quilts come in a variety of themes. These personalized lap quilts can also provide warmth and security for a loved one during a time of uncertainty in their lives.

More importantly, the caregiver gains a sense of empowerment in an often overwhelming situation. It is something special that a caregiver, family member or friend can do to bring contentment to their loved one.

The Fidget Quilt may even occupy the patient enough to allow the caregiver a brief respite.

The Fidget Quilts, offered by The Fidget Quilt Project, are handmade from materials that are often donated. Completed lap quilts are often donated by quilting or sewing guilds.

Some quilts from The Quilt Project are donated to local nursing homes, while others are offered for sale, where a portion of the proceeds are contributed to a caregiver’s respite fund.

Sunflower Memories Caregiver Fund, for those in who do not qualify for government programs, was established to let caregivers know that they are not forgotten or alone during such a stressful time. This help was founded in memory of Anne Marie’s father and in honor of her mother, and is currently only available in the Newnan-Coweta area, but with plans for expansion.

Applications for the program will be ready for review in the last quarter of this year. Rowe-Together Inc. will contract with an in-home care company for a certain number of hours of respite for caregivers – using funds from Fidget Quilt sales to pay for the service.

Anne Marie Rowe has a heart for caregivers because of her own experiences with several family members “in the trenches,” as she puts it. Her quest is to share the encouragement that “someone has been here before me, and they made it. I can, too.”

This passion is affirmed by both her non-profit “Fidget Quilt Project” and her Caregiver Empowerment Program.

As the blanket of security passes from one generation to the next, opportunities for an expression of love and appreciation are often hard to find. Through her love for her father, Rowe has found a means of comfort for those who were so often our comfort during our childhood. 




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