The disease, Alzheimer’s, carries a fear in any family where more than 2 members have either passed and/or are currently suffering. I am a member of just one of those families. In short Alzheimer’s creates abnormal proteins which attach to brain cells causing them to die. It is after the a period of time that the death of these cells becomes the cause of death of the patient.
I have spent some time investigating handmade crafts which help these patients, beginning at the 3rd stage (out of 7 stages). One such group helps to deal with the need to make repetitive movements or motions. The term the medical community calls it the need to fidget because anxiety or agitation. Fidgeting is described as rubbing hands against clothing, twisting fingers, wringing of the hands, etc.
Autism can also cause this fidgeting. Remember the popular Fidget Spinners? I spoke with a parent that was thrilled about the popularity! It meant that other children would own something that was originally made for autism.
Fidget spinners have lost their popularity amongst the school kids. However, tools used for autistic children have found some favor in the Alzheimer’s community. When investigating these tools, I was surprised to see an entire crafting section devoted to these tools.
The only thing all of these crafts have in common is the imagination of the crafter and the durability of the craft. To name just a few; fidget cuffs for the wrist, fidget mats for the lap or table, fidget aprons, fidget pillows and fidget blankets. Some use a theme (fishing or cooking), others use basic dressing skills (a belt or buttons) and last color with a large array of textures (Muslin vs Minky).
When looking for a pattern, I found that there wasn’t one. Pinterest alone has 252 pins for various tactile mats. While investigating, I did find quite a few ideas that I want to share
- Make sure that everything permanently affixed to the mat is machine washable
- If not machine washable, attach these items using key rings.
- While all items need to be durable, be sure they cannot cause injury to another patient if it is thrown.
- Zippers, pockets and loops to fit a “belt” through.
- Elastic cord that can be used to tie a bow or braid
- Using a variety of lace, cord, material and bias tape as loops around the mat.
- Repurpose jean pockets, zippers and mens ties.
- Large wooden beads, small stuffed animals or dolls.
No matter what your level of expertise or creativity, this craft will provide busy hands, affected by Alzheimer’s, with comfort.