For someone living with dementia, restlessness and fidgeting are common behaviours which have long been associated with agitation or stress. Together with Dementia Advisor for Alzheimer’s Society Judith Bower and UCLan Senior Graphic Design Lecturer Jane Souyave, Active Minds have been working towards creating an activity to help alleviate fidgeting and repetitive movements.
Conversing with carers of people living with dementia, the teams realised that these restless and repetitive motions were not always negative and wanted to dispel the thoughts that fidgeting is a disruptive behaviour.
Funding from the Alzheimer’s Society and UCLan’s Innovation funds have allowed the teams to work together and raise awareness surrounding communications and connection techniques for people living with advanced dementia. The ‘Positive Connections’ group was formed and worked tirelessly to come up with a concept which would later advance in to a product – the Fidget Widget.
What Is Fidget Widget
An age-appropriate activity, Fidget Widget comprises of five different handheld tactile tools which have been specially designed to help keep hands both relaxed and busy. The different tools can be interacted with in a variety of creative ways such as spinning, sliding, twisting, turning or rolling.
The variety of actions have been shown to not only keep restless hands busy, but also improve dexterity and provide stimulation and engagement as the activity is both meaningful and fun.
Fidget Widget is not just an individual activity however, it has been shown to be beneficial in both group and singular settings and is a brilliant way to get carers involved.
The Fidget Widget tools have undergone a two year testing period whereby the families of people living with dementia were supported with communication techniques using the Toolkit. The incredible feedback from the families showed the positive effect these products have had for their loved ones.
Interacting with the Fidget Widget has been shown to help enhance a persons psychological wellbeing as it provides an outlet for restless hands whilst being a meaningful and engaging activity. The creation of this product has allowed a wider understanding of restless behaviours and the ways in which we can interact with people living with dementia who may have verbal communication difficulties.