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October 29, 2008 > A Quilt to Remember

A Quilt to Remember

By Denny Stein

San Francisco's Union Square was covered with handmade quilts on September 19 & 20. Each quilt memorialized an Alzheimer sufferer, family caregivers, or a dedicated staff of professional caretakers. Each quilt was personal, reflecting the joys of life and the sadness of premature loss.

At least 6 of these quilts, to date, were created and donated by Northern California families.

De'Ann Castro of San Francisco put together a quilt to honor her grandmother, Della Sierras, but her words tell more of the story: "My mom was my nana's primary caregiver so I saw firsthand how this disease not only affects the individual but [also] the caregiver."

Ruth Brown, a member of the Modesto Country Crossroads Quilters Guild, created her quilt as her husband Burt was "nearing the advanced stages of Alzheimer's Disease, [so that] he could still recognize his former music friends, the Senior Rascals."

Alzheimer's Disease is the most common of the age-related dementias. More than 5 million Americans have AD, and the number is projected to grow, by mid-century, to 16 million. This growth is due to the ageing of the country's population, since 1 in 8 persons over 65 years, and half of the over 85 population, suffers from AD.

The American Alzheimer's Foundation has created the Quilt to Remember project as a 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."
Eric J. Hall, President and CEO, AFA

Quilt panels are sewn and donated by both individuals and groups. Individual panels are 4' x4', and panels created by organizations or groups can be 8'x8'. The Quilt to Remember is modeled after the AIDS Quilt, designed to grow as more panels are contributed. Specifics about creating and donating a quilt can be found at www.alzquilt.org The details sewn into each quilt bring to life the stories of the families and victims of Alzheimer's disease:

Julie Davies of Las Vegas, NV included an unfinished heart, started by her mother, including the needle she left in the cloth at the time she put down her work, and then forgot to return to finish it.

Kathy French, of San Pablo, CA, stopped by to see the quilt she had made and contributed in honor of her father, Lyle Klubber. Seeing the panel she had made, along with the other panels, she said, "I am in the company of friends and my Dad is in the company of friends."

An apron quilt, made from her mother's aprons was donated by Jean Bolds of San Pablo, CA. "My mother, Aylene Henderson-Bolds, was such a special woman. She was very kind and loving, and she deserves to be honored in this way. . This apron quilt . . . truly reflects who she was: a homemaker. She provided so much love, warmth, and caring to everyone she knew. And, boy, could she cook!"

The AFA is challenging individuals and organizations across America to contribute panels to the Quilt to Remember and help grow the collection six-fold to coincide with the climb of Alzheimer's disease to the 6th spot as the leading cause of death of Americans. For more information, go to the AFA website. Locally, Color Me Quilts and More, on Main Street in Niles, has information about how to participate in the Quilt to Remember.

Goal: 600 panels by November 2009.

To see more of the Quilt to Remember panels, and find out how to be part of the AFA project, go to www.afaquilt.org.

If you or someone you know is seeking services or care for a person with Alzheimer's Disease, go to the website or call 866-AFA-8484. The AFA can direct you to local services, facts about Alzheimer's Disease, workshops, treatment options, research updates, care giving strategies, educational materials and conferences.

Next stop for the Quilt is New York City, November 5-7.

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