Many senior citizens will receive a touching gift from the Alzheimer Society of Manitoba (ASM) on Feb. 10.
That day, 150 touch quilts will be given to residents at West Park Manor Personal Care Home (3199 Grant Ave.) in Charleswood for them to use for sensory and memory stimulation, according to Trudy Mattey, manager of volunteers, events, and annual giving at the ASM, which is located at 120 Donald St.
Each of the 150 touch quilts were made out of 36 six-inch squares of different fabrics with different textures.
"Some of the fabrics that we use in the quilts are seersucker, fake fur, velvet, fleece, satin, corduroy," Mattey said.
The purpose of the touch quilts is to engage the senior citizens’ sense of touch, since that is usually the last sense many people lose, as well as their memories.
"The different fabrics remind people of different things," Mattey said. "For example, a woman feels lace, which can bring memories of a tablecloth or a wedding dress. Flannel can remind people of pyjamas."
Touch quilts can be different sizes, but the ASM prefers the quilts to be composed of 36 six-inch squares. One of the reasons is safety-related.
"The size of it is just perfect for a lap quilt, so if you’re bound to a wheelchair, then it fits perfectly. It’s also not too long so it won’t get caught in the wheels," Mattey said.
The Touch Quilt project started in January of 2010 with the intention of providing touch quilts to people living in personal care homes in Manitoba. Since then, the ASM has donated more than 4,000 touch quilts to residents in more than 80 personal care homes.
"We donate them usually twice or three times a year, depending on how many we have," Mattey said.
Mattey explained that the personal care homes which receive touch quilts are chosen by draws at two annual conferences in March and in November.
"The people who attend those conferences put their names in a draw, and whoever’s name is chosen chooses the personal care home the touch quilts go to," Mattey explained.
Mattey said there are more than 400 volunteers who spend countless hours preparing quilt-making kits as well as sewing the touch quilts. Volunteers range from church groups, quilt groups, caregivers with a family member who has dementia, family members who have lost a loved one to dementia, and high school home economics students and teachers.
"The creation of touch quilts is going on throughout the year. The project has encompassed three generations of families working together," Mattey said.