Cheryl Williams of Melville is always on the lookout for a new idea that will enhance her mother’s quality of life. Williams’ mother, Elsie Lewchuk, became a resident of the Canora Gateway Lodge almost two years ago.
“Google and Pinterest are my buddies,” Williams says. “Mother used to be a homemaker and was very active. I am always looking for ideas that stimulate her and make her happy.”
Williams researched numerous sites that sell kits and sensory stimulating articles for individuals with dementia. She was looking for items that were safe, durable, washable, and provided tactile stimulation. One thing caught her attention: special sleeves designed to provide a stimulation activity for restless hands for patients suffering from dementia.
These knitted bands have trimmings of ribbons, beads, buttons and zips on both outside and inside that patients can twiddle and fiddle with. They are used to calm patients with dementia or Alzheimer’s by giving them something to do with their hands.
Not only do these items provide sensory stimulation, they are practical in that they provide warmth.
Armed with her research, Williams purchased a knitting loom and has not looked back. She introduced her mother to these sleeves in October. Since then, she has made 18 colourful units.
Cheryl Williams with her mom Elsie Lewchuk. Thanks to Williams, Gateway Lodge has been a recipient of a number of sensory stimulation items suitable for residents with dementia.
Determined to find other sources of tactile stimulation, Williams’ next project was creating a lap mat, again using cloth of varying textures, and adorned with beads, buttons and other things to occupy the hands of patients.
Williams scoured Melville’s local shops for cloth with interesting textures and prints, as well as sheets and blankets that could be configured into lap mats. Innovative Quilting in Melville, owned by Dolores Pilipow, generously donated the material and batting to these projects. Others from the community quilting guild are now making the lap mats.
To date, Williams has donated 18 sensory sleeves and 18 lap mats for the residents of Canora Gateway Lodge.
“The first ones were for mom, the others are a donation,” Williams said. “I really do not sew, but I can make a straight line,” she laughs. “Mom is a giving person who was active in the community. It is part of our heritage. It is a pleasure to pay it forward and give back to the elderly,” Williams adds.