Fidget blankets reduce anxiety in hospice patients

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(From left) Volunteers Judi Wolfe, Dee Greene and Jeanette McConnell hold fidget blankets they made for Loving Care Hospice and Home Health.

(Posted Feb. 7, 2018)

What is a fidget blanket? It’s a small lap quilt made with different textured fabrics and often adorned with keys, buttons, zippers, or other objects to help busy the nervous hands of a patient with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.

As diseases like dementia progress, the hands can get more nervous and fidgety. These blankets or quilts are designed to stimulate the brain through memories and senses.

While the fidget blanket idea was originally used for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients, Loving Care Hospice and Home Health nurses and physicians use them for many other patients.

“They have proven to help reduce anxiety and restlessness,” said Dr. Colleen Pema, one of Loving Care’s medical directors. “Our nurses are constantly asking for more fidget blankets to take to patients because they are so therapeutic.”

Loving Care appreciates the Crazy Quilters, church groups, individuals and Loving Care volunteers who make and donate the blankets.

“It’s nice to know I can do something to bring comfort to someone else,” said Dee Greene, a volunteer who has made 12 quilts. “They are fun to make, plus there is no wrong way to make them. The key is sewing the sensory, tactile articles on securely.”

Loving Care received a grant to purchase items for the blankets. Ribbon, socks, buttons, pony-tail hair bands, and even measuring spoons are among the items used. Blankets lie across the patient’s lap or on the bed as they “fidget” with them. Blankets are 14×17 inches and are made out of scraps of very soft material.

The fidget blankets become the patient’s personal item to keep.

Loving Care has been the only local, non-profit hospice agency in Madison County for the last 25 years. They have 30 volunteers. Some are retired and some still have full-time jobs. The choice of the length of time and day to volunteer is completely their choice. Go to www.lovingcare.us for more volunteer information or to learn more about the fidget blanket project.

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