Friday, November 28, 2014

Friday Finish: A Special Gift for Dad

Update 11/30/14: Several people have suggested buttons, snaps, and zippers. While some of the on-line descriptions of fidget quilts include them, the person who introduced fidget quilts to our guild said not to use them. Functional fasteners cause frustration for the patients, who don't have the dexterity or can't remember how to make them work. Fidget quilts are mostly about textures to "pet" and pick at.

My dad has advanced dementia. He lives in a group home in Arizona where the caregivers give him lots of attention. They say he's very tactile, and I know he spends a lot of time folding and unfolding the corners on newspapers or rolling up a placemat.

Recently a friend at guild showed an Alzheimer's "Fidget Quilt." She described it as "30 Minutes of Calm" and mentioned that these are appreciated by dementia patients and their caregivers at a nursing home near here.

I've also heard something like this called a touch mat or a texture mat. The purpose is for dementia patients to have something to keep their hands occupied. It has to be sturdy and washable. I made a Fidget Quilt for my dad.  
Fidget Quilt or Touch Mat
It's a slightly smaller than a hand towel; I used a towel for the back so the terry cloth would provide more texture, so the mat wouldn't slip off dad's lap, and so the caregiver can use it to wipe a spill if necessary.
Towel Backing
All of the elements are washable so they can throw this in the washer with dad's other laundry. I hope these elements give him something for his hands to fidget with.
Giant Button
Faux Fur
Spinning Spool
Webbing & Slider
Stretchy Mesh
Buckle Tab
My sister and I have been trying to think of other things dad might like. So far we've come up with a few: a plastic Slinky, a Koosh ball, and maybe Play-Doh. Can you think of anything else?

Linking up with Whoop Whoop Friday at Confessions of a Fabric Addict and Friday Finish at Crazy Mom Quilts.


  1. My MIL (the Queen Mother) also fidgets with the edge of her sheets when sitting up in bed and her apron (bib) when at the table. I never realized it's a common characteristic for dementia. I will take your idea and see what I can come up with for her. You are blessed to have good care for your father, as are we.

  2. What a neat idea. Have you thought of zippers, textured minky, or a ball with soft spikes?

  3. Wow. Wish I had one of these for my husband when his cancer spread to his brain he fidgeted a lot. Some times tearing up important paper. This would have helped to calm him.

  4. What a fantastic gift. How about large snaps or even a magnetic closure flap like are used in purses or pouches?

  5. I love your mat, it´s an ingenious gift....bravo for you and your dad.!

  6. What a great idea. Do let us know how he reacts to his new mat/

  7. This is a Wonderful Idea!!!! How about a zipper? Or a shoelace? Or the rubbery on slip material with the little bumbs. Like the kind they use for bottoms of slippers or footed pajamas? I know we have a soft mid-size plastic ball with bumps all over it that smells of vanilla. Even I love playing with it. I think we got it from discovery toys, maybe.

  8. Also check out Nancy Zieman's blog (Nancy's Notions) for ideas on this. She recently posted about mats such as this.

  9. What about a piece with fringe? My Dad always liked to play with pieces like that.

  10. What a neat idea! I haven't heard of these before but can see how it might be a useful tool for dealing with such patients. Whoop whoop!!

  11. This is really informative. Our church quilt group want to make some to donate and I plan to add ruffled lace and rick rack to the list for texture. I've been looking on the web for a couple of hours, this is one of the most informative as far as ideas. Thanks for the post!

  12. What a great idea! My older sister sits and fidgets with the edge of her lap blanket. Additional fabrics could be corduroy, velveteen, fleece, velour or anything touchable. Washability would not have to be a factor in an item this small. Did you add ties to the sides to attach it to your father's chair so it wouldn't slide off his lap?