A warm gesture for people with dementia
Fiddle gloves are not only keeping the hands of people with dementia warm at Bupa Aged Care in Mt Sheridan, they’re also keeping them busy.
Sophia Medlin, who is a cleaner at the Queensland home, has dedicated her spare time to crocheting the multi textured gloves that have been donated to the home in time for Dementia Awareness Month this month (September).
“I’ve worked at the home for 5 years and I know that if I ever ended up with dementia in my old age, I’d want a fiddle glove because there are so many trinkets to play with and I am one of those people who needs to be busy,” she said.
Sophia learnt to craft through YouTube and came up with the idea during a ‘Person First’ training session at work.
Bupa’s training taught me to put our residents, their experiences, wellbeing, needs and feelings at the centre of everything I do. That’s when Nancy and I brainstormed the idea of understanding and improving the residents’ lives through these gloves.
The home’s Recreational Activity Officer, Nancy Farrell said restless hands are a common symptom of anxiety that people with dementia can exhibit.
“Most of our residents are not mobile and have a tendency to pick at their clothes, so this eases their stress levels and gives them something else to do with their hands instead,” Nancy said.
According to what Nancy and the team have seen, the gloves have been helpful with providing visual, tangible and sensory stimulation.
“Nessie Camp is a resident who was once a busy dress maker but is now quite frail and still has a desire to remain active. I slipped the dog themed glove onto her hands and her eyes instantly lit up, then her hands started playing with the yellow plastic ring and fluffy pink flower,” she said.
Bupa’s Head of Dementia Services, Margaret Ryan said anxiety in people with dementia often manifests itself through restlessness and for some, through distress.
“The fiddle gloves can help with relieving boredom and have helped our residents living with dementia to stay focused on an activity and thereby reduce some of the emotional anxiety or agitation they may have been experiencing,” Margaret said.
“More importantly, we are focussing on the person and their current abilities. In this case, it is by using their senses through touch; feel and vision. When we link that to the person’s interests and life history, it makes a huge difference for those residents and their experience becomes both meaningful and enjoyable.”