Advice for MEN as well as women!
November 19th, 2014 by Kathryn Vercillo
Blogger and author Kathryn Vercillo is an expert in the area of using crafting to heal, having researched the topic extensively for her book Crochet Saved My Life. In this post for Alzheimer’s Awareness Month she shares how crafting can be used to prevent and treat age-related memory loss.
November is National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month. Many crafters are doing their part to raise awareness around this awful disease. In this post I’ll share some research and information about how knitting and crochet may be used to prevent dementia in some people and improve quality of life for those who already have this condition.
Knitting and Crochet for Prevention of Alzheimer’s
There is still a lot that we don’t know about the prevention of age-related memory loss. However, there are a lot of signs that knitting and crochet may help delay or prevent the condition. Recent research from The Mayo Clinic found that crafting, including knitting, is a cognitive exercise that may reduce Alzheimer’s risk by 30-50%.
Here are some of the reasons:
Learning new things helps prevent Alzheimer’s. With knitting and crochet there are always new skills and techniques to learn.
Improved hand-eye coordination helps build up neural networks, which can serve as a neuroprotective reserve against Alzheimer’s.
Crafting is a form of emotional self-care, which helps reduce stress, a key component of reducing early Alzheimer’s.
There is a correlation between depression and Alzheimer’s. Crochet is one way to battle depression.
Knitting and Crochet for Treatment of Alzheimer’s
There isn’t a “cure” for Alzheimer’s, but there are many things that can be done to improve the quality of life for people who are dealing with this condition including knitting and crochet. These tasks are based on repetitive motion so that the individual can continue to remember how to do them through body memory even when cognitive memory is failing. Here’s how they help improve quality of life:
Making things helps the older person feel productive even when Alzheimer’s takes other skills away.
Teaching kids to crochet or crocheting items for family members helps the person with dementia feel like they can still offer something to the younger generation.
People with Alzheimer’s often suffer from “fidgety hands” and may pick at themselves or destroy things as a result; knitting and crochet keep the hands active.
Sensory stimulation evokes positive feelings and can serve as a form of self-expression for people with advanced Alzheimer’s. Yarn is great for sensory stimulation!
Knitting and crochet are calming activities. Living with dementia is stressful and it helps to have activities that are relaxing to reduce anxiety.
Crafting for the Caregivers
Alzheimer’s doesn’t just affect the individual; it affects the family. Oftentimes, family members become caregivers for elders with dementia. Knitting and crochet can help caregivers in their own self-care so that they avoid burnout. Learn more here.
Crafters Doing Their Part
We know many crafters doing their part to raise awareness around Alzheimer’s. Just this month, Lion Brand sponsored Knitting Runner David Babcock in the New York City Marathon. David ran with the Alzheimer’s Association, New York City Chapter team to raise money for awareness and funds for Alzheimer research, care and support. AND you can still donate! Lion Brand will match your dollar donations until David meets his goal of $3500.
Anastacia Zittel of AnastaciaKnits does a big fundraiser each year, raffling off a crochet blanket to raise money for an annual Alzheimer’s walk in memory of her family members who have passed away from the disease. There are many other Alzheimer’s-related charities that accept handmade donations; check your local area listings for more details.
Reprinted from Lion Brand message, November 29th, 2014