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Quilts help bring back memories of the past

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A group of area seniors recently received a touch of warmth to fend off the cold and stimulate their minds.

Last week, the Alzheimer Society of Manitoba donated 86 quilts to residents at the Revera Heritage Lodge in St. James as part of its Touch Quilt Project.

"We hope to provide a touch quilt to every person in a personal care home in Manitoba," said

Trudy Mattey, manager of events, volunteers and annual giving with the organization.
Launched in 2010 the project has given more than 3,200 handmade quilts to care homes across the province.

Each quilt is made with 36, six inch squares of different fabrics and textures.

Each square roughly fits the size of an outstretched hand, and the use of different materials is meant to stimulate the recipient’s senses, Mattey said.

Around 80% of people in care homes have dementia, Mattey said.

"It brings back memories," she said.

"We’ve learned through different comments coming back from the homes that a favourite square is a square of fur. We believe it reminds them of a pet they would have had as a child."

Some squares are from lace or satin, and can bring up memories of a wedding dress, she added.

The project is an awareness campaign and volunteers who help make the quilts include seniors groups, quilting groups, and churches. More than 27 Manitoba schools have participated in the project.

"We’re educating different types of people and we’re reaching more people about dementia to hopefully reduce the stigma," Mattey said, noting the organization’s campaign this year is "See Me, Not the Disease."

The society will donate its next batch of quilts sometime in May, with a recipient still to be announced.

For more, visit www.alzheimer.mb.ca/touchquiltproject.

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