When I recently lost my Mother I, like so many others, was perplexed by her issues with Dementia and Alzheimer’s (or perhaps my issues). Since then I have become determined to learn more of what can be done for the many people who must deal with memories in their waning years, or memory loss due to injury or illness and bring relief to patients, family members and even caregivers.
The theme of Remembering Quilts is to tell a story using photos for a specific purpose identified by the customer. The emphasis in the assistance provided by Remembering Quilts is in sequencing the personal photos in telling the unique story and by creating a series of photo collages in lieu of individual pictures. Labeling the pictures within each collage or adding names, mementoes, or labels to place further emphasis on the story or purpose where needed is a part of a personal choice and the design service offered.
Reminiscence therapy with photographs and labeling is simply providing external artifacts, which could have helped to stimulate the memory of my Mom. I chose “Remembering Quilts” because to me it is a blend of the best technology has to offer today with the traditional warmth and caring of a family quilt. Large labeled photos for easy viewing personalized on a warm and comfortable quilt can stimulate memories with family members and even facilitate caregiver interaction when family members are not present.
The quilt may be made to fit nicely around the family member while seated or in a wheel chair or can be smaller if desired. The idea of a quilt of pictures stems from the quilt providing warmth and comfort to the family member. Cold extremities are common among the healthiest of seniors or people suffering from illness or injuries, the result of a natural reduction in circulation. The quilts can be machine washed which is generally required if in an assisted care facility. The actual photos and the labeling of the people in the photos are provided by the customer. Each quilt is personalized by its unique family photos. It is the conversation about the photo that stimulates the memory and enhances its effectiveness. I print the photos and their labeling into the fabric of the quilt. Whether by family member or a care giver, each and every mention of the quilt’s contents becomes a unique opportunity to stimulate the loved one’s memory and the remembering by directing their attention to one of the photos, identifying the picture and asking a question about it.
In addition to the photos, it may be advantageous to incorporate within the non-photo area the therapeutic aspects of a "fidget quilt." A fidget quilt is particularly useful for Alzheimer's patients who exhibit greater nervous tension in their hands. The fidget quilt can be adorned with a variety of buttons to hold the attention of the Alzheimer's patient and can provide hours of tactile entertainment while adding the natural comfort that comes from a good quality of flannel backing. Many experienced Alzheimer's caregivers swear by the effectiveness of the fidget quilt. For this purpose two textured fabric choices are available. The textured material’s color will be a neutral color so as to blend in with the other fabric colors and not detract from the photo emphasis. Other options can be added but should remain simple. Buttons can be a variety of sizes and shapes materials and can be provided by either the customer or me.
I can’t help but believe my time with my mom would have greatly benefitted from such a quilt concept to stimulate remembering.
And I can’t but also believe Remembering Quilts has the potential for stimulate the memory and bring comfort to wounded warriors with severe traumatic head injuries and people undergoing cancer treatment. RememberingQuilts can also celebrate the memory of a loved one.