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Volunteers sought to make 'Laptivity' quilts for local people with dementia in La Crosse area

La Crosse Tribune - 7/25/2019

Jul. 24--The effects of Alzheimer's extend beyond memory loss. With some beloved hobbies no longer feasible and few tasks to occupy the day, individuals with a form of dementia can become restless, bored and perturbed, left with hours in the day and little to do.

"Adults with dementia have feelings that are often difficult to express due to cognitive impairments in language, memory and executive function," says Sara Wrobel, executive director of Causeway Caregivers. "Expressing frustration, boredom, anxiety or pain may be expressed as resistance, agitation, wandering, frequent requests for help and calling out. Up to 90% of persons with dementia experience one or more of these symptoms during the course of their illness and impacts the person's ability to cope with stress. Caregiver impatience or rushing, clinician assessments, unfamiliar surroundings, and an over-stimulating environment can provoke distress."

Offering those with the disease an outlet for their mental energy and emotions are what Wrobel calls Laptivity quilts, small blankets adorned with zippers, buttons, beads and textured fabrics. The portable activity centers, often referred to as fidget or sensory quilts, have grown in popularity across the country, also coming in pillow or placemat styles.

Hoping to give individuals with dementia and their caregivers a heartfelt reprieve, the Peer Caregiver Support Program of Causeway Caregivers and the Aging and Disability Resource Center of La Crosse County are inviting community members to help assemble and sew 200 Lap-tivity quilts from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 6, at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, 4141 Mormon Coulee Road, which will be donated to assisted living, nursing home or veteran facilities. Staff will then provide the quilts to clients or patients in need.

The quilts, which will be washable and come in assorted styles, including sports or pet themes, are of particular benefit for those with dementia who have restless hands, which can manifest in hand-wringing or rubbing, picking at their clothes or twisting their fingers. Much like a fidget spinner toy, the Laptivity quilts provide a way to keep hands in motion in a more entertaining and healthy way.

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Peer Caregiver Support Program in La Crosse County offers a personal approach to coping with dementia

Peer Caregiver Support Program in La Crosse County offers a personal approach to coping with dementia

The odd behaviors started suddenly.

"This crafting day offers a unique opportunity to the volunteer to select the patterns and color squares to see the activities to transforming fabric with their time and caring into a Laptivity quilt," Wrobel said. "The quilt shows family members and caregivers that someone they'll never meet is sending their love and support to them as they journey along the path of dementia with their loved one."

In addition to needing people to sew, volunteers are needed to cut fabric, create designs and activities, affix embellishments and tie knots.

To register for the Laptivity quilt making session, call Causeway Caregivers at 608-775-9999. Refreshments will be served at the event, and participants are invited to bring their own sewing machine.

Emily Pyrek can be reached at emily.pyrek@lee.net.

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(c)2019 the La Crosse Tribune (La Crosse, Wis.)

Visit the La Crosse Tribune (La Crosse, Wis.) at www.lacrossetribune.com

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