Since 2004, the AOA of the local YMCA created a volunteer project called Tactile Quilting, specifically for people afflicted with Alzheimer's. In the 2004 Quilters Newsletter, apparently there was an article that explained how some people with Alzheimer's are comforted by touching different textures, such as faux fur, cordorouy, fleece, and velvet.

Each year, the AOA donates at least 14 quilts (6 inch squares assembled in 6 rows) to individuals with Alzheimer's being cared for at home. I picked up the full color one-page announcement last week after working out. Unsure as to whether I could nominate my own spouse, I contacted the person listed. She responded immediately through an email as well as by phone and we set up a meeting so I could choose the quilt myself.

She showed me ten or more textural, brightly colored beautiful quilts, each with a tag sewn at the edge saying in Lucida Calligraphy font: This quilt was made especially for you by the Somerset Hills YMCA Quilters, Basking Ridge, NJ. She asked me various questions while filling out a form and simultaneously putting on her sneakers. When I mentioned I was also the primary caregiver for my mother, she offered a quilt for her as well.

I felt a bit guilty taking two, explained that my mother doesn't have Alzheimer's but she waved that off, saying, "We have some Girl Scouts trying to earn badges and a backlog of quilts." I felt like a kid in a candy shop, then she handed me a book, Take Your Oxygen First, protecting your health and happiness while caring for a loved one with memory loss, written by Leeza Gibbons, with a foreward by Larry King.

She said she was late for a class she had to teach, but I was welcome to join the AOA for water and floor exercises, pot luck lunches, book club, making greeting cards, watercolor painting, singing and monthly quilting. Needless to say, I was speechless, except for a bewildered thank you.

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