Volunteers stitch quilt for Alzheimer’s

May 5, 2008

Volunteers and Lakeview Ranch residents make a quilt for an Alzheimer’s Foundation of America tour

By Kristen Miller
Staff Writer

As a labor of love, volunteers came together recently to stitch a quilt in honor of Lakeview Ranch residents, both past and present.

Judy Berry, owner of the dementia and Alzheimer’s unit in Dassel and Darwin and member of the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA), became aware of AFA’s effort to spread awareness of this devastating disease.

AFA’s mission for the Quilt to Remember is to pay “tribute to all those who have passed or are living with dementia, and their families, so that others can recognize the reality and enormity of this disease, and acknowledge that we stand united for optimal care and a cure.”

Berry suggested the idea to Shirley Capistrant, Lakeveiw activities director, who took charge designing the quilt and organizing the volunteers.

A total of 93 names were embroidered in it, which included all of Lake -view Ranch’s residents since the first home opened in Darwin in 1999 to March 1, 2008.

This project was very dear for those who worked on it – who see it, Capistrant said.

“A lot of people were touched by this,” she said. “I can’t even look at it without getting tears in my eyes.”

Sandy Erickson, former Ranch employee and now a dementia care volunteer, embroidered more than 50 names herself.

She, along with others, recalled memories at the time, of the person whose name they were working on.

“It was truly a labor of love,” Erickson said.

Other major contributors included Margaret Slagle, Cathy Aldape, Connie Lutz, Alvina Rohrbeck, Barb Raiber, Yvonne Morehouse, Judy Berry, Pat Holmgren, and Lotus Krueger.

Along with the residents’ names are words that family members used to describe what Lakeview Ranch meant to them.

Words used included spiritual, unique, belonging, dignity, specialized care, personal, respect, kindness, faith, and self-worth.

Capistrant was touched most by the words “dignity” and “respect.”

“That says a lot. Isn’t that what we all want to have?” she asked.

The completed 8 foot by 8 foot quilt will travel around the country as part of the AFA Quilt to Remember tour with its first stop at the Mall of America, Friday, May 9 through Sunday, May 11.

“It’s bittersweet to give it up,” Capistrant said.

Therefore, the dedicated quilters aren’t stopping here. After they donate this quilt, volunteers will work on a quilt for both the Darwin and Dassel homes.

Capistrant is also going to take pictures of the individual names and send them to the families, explaining the project.

For many of the names, the quilters tried to pick patterns that related to the individual’s life. For example, a schoolhouse would be used for someone who was a former teacher.

In a way, Capistrant feels this project has helped immortalize the individuals who have been so deeply affected by Alzheimer’s and related illnesses, like dementia.

The AFA goals for the quilt are to:

• bring the issue of “care in addition to cure” to the national stage with the objective of uniting, educating, and motivating the nation.

• highlight the enormity and reality of Alzheimer’s disease and related illnesses in an unprecedented way.

• remember and honor individuals with Alzheimer’s and related illnesses and allow them to continue to speak.

• pay tribute to caregivers and healthcare professionals.

• bring comfort and empowerment to caregivers, providing a therapeutic outlet for emotions.

• educate the public about the disease, care-related issues, and community resources.

• engage dementia-related organizations in this activity.

• provide socialization and stimulation to individuals with dementia that participate in this quilt-making activity.

• foster community involvement in the cause.

For more information about AFA’s Quilt to Remember, visit www.alzquilt.org.

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