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When It's OK to Fidget

By Kim J. Gifford
Photos by Caleb Kenna

Clockwise from lower left: Betty Schneider (blue sweater) , Joanne Sullivan, Ellen Sutherland, Kathy Connors, Kay Bergquist and Barbara Lacy. The Ladies of Union Church of Proctor in Proctor, Vermont make Fidget Quilts for people with dementia, Alzheimer’s and autism.


It is a Saturday afternoon at the Union Church of Proctor. Sun streams through the windows of the large room where a clutch of women have gathered with sewing machines and fabrics to create Fidget Quilts for Alzheimer’s patients at community nursing homes and for autistic children in the area. It is too warm outside for a typical November day, and inside, the atmosphere is just as warm with chattering, laughter, and the hustle and bustle of these busy ladies engaged in community outreach.

Fidget Quilts are small quilts roughly 20- to 24-inches square, designed to sit in the laps of Alzheimer’s patients and provide their hands with something to do. According to the American Alzheimer’s Association, in 2015, an estimated 5.3 million Americans of all ages had Alzheimer’s disease. This number included an estimated 5.1 million age 65 and older. It is believed that Fidget Quilts help soothe the nerves of Alzheimer’s patients, giving them not only something comforting to do, but to touch.


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