(623) 934-2722 shudson@aginginaz.com

Our client, Mary, was known as the local quilting virtuoso. She was skilled with creating intricate designs that won awards at the fair and people purchased them as soon as she put them up for sale. For decades, she poured her creativity into each stitch, crafting quilts that told stories of love, warmth, and community.

Her favorite quilts were the ones she did for people who lost a loved one in death. They would collect items such as tee shirts, flannel shirts, even jeans from the loved one’s belonging and send them to her. She would create beautiful quilts from the materials. The quilts were built to tell the story of that person.

Unfortunately, as time passed, Mary found herself facing a formidable adversary: arthritis. The once nimble fingers that easily created her masterpieces were now stiff and painful, making it very difficult to continue her beloved craft. The loss was profound, akin to bidding farewell to an old friend. Grief wrapped itself around Mary’s heart as she mourned the loss of her ability to quilt. The pain seemed worse the less active she was but the ability to hold the tools to do the work was simply going away.

Her family noticed she was grieving and seemed deeply depressed and was losing interest in daily activities so when they talked to her physician about their concern for her well-being, he told them how a care manager would help and that is when they reached out to us.

On our first visit we noticed several areas that needed to be addressed in her home and we took notes so that we could prioritize and address them one at a time. Our focus was on how we could help her to continue involvement in the activity she loved the most even though she was finding it physically difficult.

Just our initial discussion and interest in her talent seemed to light her up. She was curious about our ideas of how she could continue with her quilting and seemed a bit hopeful as we discussed some ideas. One of the first thoughts we had was that she could be involved in some educational opportunities in the community. We knew that some craftspeople were working with the library system to hold classes and help educate people. We would reach out and find out the process to have her in to teach a class about the tools needed and to answer questions from beginners. We thought she could also set up a way to answer questions from intermediate and advanced quilters. She loved these ideas and started to make lists of things that every beginner should know. The library was excited to have her share her knowledge and they had a room where a couple of sewing machines could even be set up so that she could consult and help people who were working on specific projects.

A second idea was to have an assistant quilter. There was a young woman, Sheila, who was new to quilting but she wanted to learn as much as possible, so she operated as Mary’s hands in the physical work of cutting and sewing. She learned how to measure properly, how to cut straight lines, how to cut specialized shapes, and how to sew them together to make basic to expert designs. She offered to help Mary make a couple of Comfort Quilts, a name they came up with together and promoted on a website Sheila created. Over time, their work together was very fulfilling, and Mary was so thankful to have Sheila work with her. They developed a close friendship and Sheila was like an adopted granddaughter.

Mary also began to teach her granddaughters who were interested in quilting, and she was overjoyed to be passing the skill on to the family. With all this work and support from others, the happiness returned, and she had quilting in her life again.

If you see your elderly loved one is missing out on activities they used to enjoy and you want to help them look for ways to bring back the spark, please reach out to us. This is just one very small part of how we can help them regain enjoyment. Aging doesn’t mean that you have to give up everything you enjoy doing.