Made with love: Fidget Gals make blankets to soothe restless hands

Published Saturday, August 20, 2022 at 12:10 a.m.

By Erin Kidd
Lutheran Services Carolinas

SALISBURY — Deana Burris has fond memories of her childhood blanket. She still has fond memories of the blanket’s color, its smell, and how it felt.

“My blanket was satin. I still remember it because it was soothing to me,”Burris, director of Trinity Oaks’ life enrichment campus, said. “Those are the kinds of feelings that fidget blankets can give to people.”

Once a month, a group of Trinity Oaks residents come together to admire each other’s colorful handiwork on their fidget blankets. They call themselves the Fidget Gals. They make the blankets to share with their peers and Novant Health.

A fidget blanket is a lap-size quilt that provides sensory and tactile stimulation for the restless hands of someone with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia, along with people who have ADD or an autism spectrum disability.

“A lot of our residents with dementia get anxious and they have other deficits, like their hearing, their sight, their mobility. So, whenever they have a fidget blanket that has different textures and things that can occupy their time, it soothes them,” Burris said. “They can have something in their lap to touch.”

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Every fidget blanket is unique. Some blankets come with bows to grab while others have ribbons or pockets. Some have special messages written on the back, such as “Made with love.”Some of them tell stories.

Burris knew that they were in the right place when Novant approached her about starting a blanket-making group. Many of the residents have been sewing their whole lives.

“When it was explained to us, they had suggested we have different textures on the blankets so they can feel them,”Fidget Gal Beverly Basler stated. “That’s why we have so many different things on it so it can all be stimulating to the patient. Hopefully it does some good and helps them.”

The group has a stash of trim, thread, fabric, and any other materials that could be used to create blankets. These items have been donated by Trinity Oaks residents, or purchased by members. Fidget Gal Ruth Goff keeps the closet stocked so members can make blankets at home.

Lola Folss (94 years old) is one of the oldest members in the group. She says she prefers to make blankets from cotton and jean fabrics. She said she’s made about 25 blankets since the group began.

“I make them with jean fabric because it’s so stable. So not only is it easier to sew, but it receives whatever you embellish it with and stays in place,” Folss said. “It makes it more secure.”

The Fidget Gals have donated fidget blankets already to Novant, Trinity Oaks rehab, Trinity Living Center, Trinity Living Center, Trinity Living Center, and Virginia Casey Center. This is Trinity Oaks’ memory care center. They are planning to add Trinity at Home soon.

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