Things to include: Busy Blankets – Dementia Quilts

Busy blanket for Dementia patients by Brenda Wood

Keep in Mind:

Dementia patients can be confused or agitated easily.

  • Bold differential colours can cause confusion.
    • Bright colours are fine
    • Muted colours are fine
    • Monotone colours are fine
    • Black and white is fine
    • But keep the colour layout and patterns simple.
  • Older fingers have decreased ‘fine motor’ skills
    • Avoid things that will frustrate them if they cannot do them… eg:
      • Threading – a lace through shoe holes
      • Very small protrusions like stiff zippers with small grips
      • Small buttons and button holes
      • Weaving / threading
  • Older eyes may not see as well
    • Add things like crinkly cellophane sewn inside fabric pockets
  • Think quiet stimulation
    • Sight
    • Soft Sound
    • Gentle textures
  • Older skin is more fragile
    • No sharp edges eg: Think hard edges of plastic or metal
    • Scratchy fabrics
      • Texture is good, but gentle texture… nothing that will cause irritation
  • Dementia patients may not recognise themselves.  A mirror or reflection may be a stranger!
  • All edges must be finished
  • All additions must be SECURELY stitched
  • All additions must be washable

If attaching items by hand sewing, use crochet cord or similar.  Sewing cotton is not always strong



Colour is good.    But keep it simple.

Contrast is good too

Finger tunnels like loops and pockets

Hand grips like tubes or thick ties

Face feelers  – long tubes of soft or silky fabric that they can rub their face with.

Mens suit ties are good  to grip and feel


Little envelopes or pockets with surprises

Big beads to slide and flick

Little beads and objects hidden in a bag to feel and squish

Ribbon pull throughs  (not weave, but pull)


Coins or beads with holes in the middle

Big buttons

Dangley bits

Velcro strips (with edges covered) to stick and unstick

Small soft toys in bags or pockets

Ribbon loops for squishing and fingers tunnels

Animals, pretty flowers, shapes to play with on a cord so they can be looked at closely, and played with above the mat

Cute faces with textured eyes like secured buttons or felt eyes

Press studs, pop fasteners

Coloured elastic hair ties, secured in a seam to pull and stretch

Elastic (round eg: hair ties) , secured in a seam with a button or bead to pull and stretch

Fabric folds and flaps – squares, triangles, half circles

Ridges and dips

Bobbles and bauble trims

Wool / yarn plaits



Mirrors or reflective surfaces

Shoe laces to thread


Small Buttons and button holes

Tiny grips on zips etc

Stiff zips

Sharp plastic or metal edges

Loose small bits.

Thin strings

Scratchy Items

Other Ideas you can include:



Belt buckles

Belts – material

Braces – for trousers




Clothes pegs

Clothes with Textured


Clothing with Pockets


Costume jewellery without stones

Cotton reels – plastic

Crochet twiddles

D rings



Dolls clothes

Dough cutting shapes

Fabric flowers

Faux fur

Fishing lures – PLASTIC no hooks


Hair curlers – rollers

Hair scrunchies or bobbles


Jean pockets and loops

Key rings

Keys – any type

Knitted squares



Makeup bag with zip or clips

Men’s ties

Metal washers

Old Jackets with cuffs

Old suits – for cuffs and


Photo holders

Pin cushions

Plastic measuring cups

Plastic measuring spoons

Plastic rings

Plastic toys

Plumbing bits – PVC Pockets


Ric rac


Sewing measuring tapes

Shirts with collar and

buttons –

Shoe laces

Shower curtain rings

Shower curtains

Shower scrunchies



Soft plush toys – small

String of beds


Suitcase labels

Tape – fabric

Tape measures – sewing


Ties – Men’s


Trousers with waistband

Tulle bags



Watch bands

Zips Easy to pull and with big hand tags

These ideas came from Lee at

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