Happy Hands Alzheimer Fidget Blankets and Products

Alzheimer dementia busy blankets, fidget quilts, aprons and cushions. Activity boxes and hardware boards that are full-of-fun for your special someone!

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It was a long and winding road from a big city professional who moved to the country and ended up becoming a self-employed landscape gardener, to closing shop to start working from home making Alzheimer/Dementia items.

Mom started having major health issues so we live and work together on a country farm with a menagerie of cats and dogs. She was a Nursing Sister for sixty years and worked in retirement villages for the last 20 odd, so we both got an up close and personal look at folks living with Alzheimer and dementia.

I am determined to make a one-stop shop as far as possible, because finding suitable items for all stages of Alzheimer's is quite a quest. Living in South Africa, the medical profession is slowly coming to grips with the epidemic that Alzheimer's in particular, has become. In my mom's case, her elderly GP was not interested in ordering any kind of diagnostic procedure such as a PETSCAN with radioactive isotopes. Not even any kind of mini mental test, or a referral to a neurologist, so my hands are tied!

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Mom herself, being a Nursing Sr, also refuses to go for testing at a nearby memory clinic, so we sit in limbo. I fully understand why she is fearful of finding out she does have any kind of dementia developing, but my focus is on trying to eleviate and improve the health of the brain neurons by adding the best supplements.

The modus operandi in the local medical profession seems to be to medicate folks throughout the various stages of Alzheimer's. There is no interest in preventative interventions, such as nutritional supplements like Vit B12, Omega 3,6,9 and coconut oil, to name a few.

The vast number of retirement villages have Alzheimer/dementia residents in their frail care and without any kind of stimulatory activity. Simply, I believe, because staff, managment and resident committee's are still unenlighted as to the benefits the various kinds of activities can have on the mental and physical health of these folk. In many cases, they are simply uninterested. Until you have a loved one with Alzheimer's, or dementia of another sort, I daresay the average person is blissfully unaware that 1-in-5 folks is now being diagnosed, with 44 000 000 worldwide and growing by every 4 seconds.

Medical aids in South Africa specifically EXCLUDE Alzheimer's in their list of DISEASES not covered as I discovered to my horror in my mom's case. Even comprehensive medical aids exclude it specifically and since all Alzheimer/Dementia folk end up needing 24-hour care, it is an expensive condition to have, which requires families to either pay for care giver's, or become care giver's to their LO's.

I have seen the average retirement villages move such folk to frail care centres, which charge higher monthly fees, or ask family members to remove them to specialist facilites, which are highly expensive. Even the one's that do care for such sufferer's often demand that families pay for 24-hour care giver's. Security is often a concern with premises not being fenced and gated. The SA Mental Health has strict guidelines for patients with Alzheimer/Dementia, so many places will not even admit to having any resident's with Alzheimer's, or another kind of dementia!

There are no art, music, physical or occupational therapists coming to see patients and residential activities are not geared to stimulation, so they are left to watch TV, or stare endlessly into space (either in the wheelchair or bed). The only thing they can do is repeat repetitive motions and sometimes, those in wheelchairs are wheeled around the gardens. Not much of a life and I believe that stimulation therapies are essential, as well as choosing natural therapies over chemical medications, which are currently in use. On the up side, there is now an interest in Sensory Rooms  popping up in some places I have visited.

I believe in Theodore Roosevelt's motto, "Do what you can, With what you have, Where you are", so mom and I embarked on a creative journey of note making sensory, stimulatory and activity fiddle quilts, or mats working from home. Also known as busy blankets and lap pads. Mom is the one to do the hand sewing and the inner linings and closing, which is not easy.

It has been challenging, but fun designing and making padded mats out of mostly donated plush interior decorating fabrics. The quilts/mats can be used for Alzheimer sufferer's, Autistic or disabled folk (even those saving from brain trauma). We even get to design a toddler's mat every now and then. My cat "Poddles" personally inspects each item!!

Each mat is totally unique and it has been a real learning process, but they are a labour of love. I have some great design idea's, which will require the use of unique African fabric's, so cannot wait for that to start as I would like to create something African inspired.

We try to have a zip, button tab, velcro wallet, pocket with choice of a small soft toy or Rosemary scented sachet, beads, charms, dangles and sensory patches and decals of various textures of material to keep hands busy. A bigger selection can be seen on www.etsy.com/happyhandsalzmats.

NB: SAFETY:  Every effort is made to ensure the mats are safe for use, but we ask for some supervision and cannot be held liable for any injuries caused in the event someone perhaps swallows a button. It will be up to caregiver's to give a daily check that the integrity of the mat is intact.