dementia weighted lap blanket
Care

Weighted lap blanket for dementia: an essential care tool

4 min read |

If you care for a loved one with dementia, a weighted lap blanket is an essential part of your care toolkit.

This simple accessory can help calm and reassure your loved one in moments of anxiety or agitation.

It could be an alternative to sedating medications which can have unwanted side effects on the body.

This article will cover the benefits of using a weighted lap blanket for dementia as part of their care routine.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links and if you go through them to make a purchase we will earn a small commission.

Here’s a summary of what we’ll cover:

  • A weighted lap blanket can be used for people living with dementia who experience agitation and restlessness.
  • These symptoms are commonly seen with dementia, due to the disorientating nature of the disease. 
  • Alongside memory loss and frailty, dementia can increase the chances of sensory impairment.
  • Using a weighted lap blanket promotes bodily awareness through pressure and touch.

What is a weighted lap blanket for dementia?

A weighted lap blanket is a tool for people with dementia to use when they feel agitated or anxious.

The gentle weight of the blanket helps them feel grounded in stressful situations that arise from sensory overload.

How do they work?

Weighted blankets work using a technique called deep touch pressure therapy (DTP).  

When the body feels the gentle pressure, it produces serotonin, the happy hormone. 

This release of serotonin helps to improve mood and promotes calm.

When any of these forms of touch are applied, deep touch pressure therapy has a calming effect that can reduce agitation.

dementia and getting lost (1)

Why do people with dementia get agitated?

Dementia is a progressive condition that affects the brain, gradually impairing thinking, language and movement. 

It is no surprise that dementia causes people to feel agitated, for different reasons at different stages of the disease. 

For more information on what are the early signs of dementia head to our dementia advice page. 

In this section, we’ll highlight some of the reasons for stress and agitation that could be improved with a weighted lap blanket.

Are you worried about a loved one?

Early signs of dementia free guide

Behavioural changes

Behavioural changes in someone with dementia can be difficult to process, both for you and your loved one.

In some cases changing behaviour can be a way to spot the early signs of dementia

For others, it can be the result of fear after diagnosis or frustration at their reduced ability. 

The agitation from these emotions can cause restlessness in the mind and body.

weighted blankets for dementia

How is a weighted blanket useful for coping with behavioural changes?

A weighted lap blanket can be used to support someone experiencing anxiety that causes restless movement. 

If they are moving their limbs, pacing around or fidgeting, a weighted blanket can be used to break the cycle of agitation. 

Encouraging your loved one to relax with a weighted lap blanket allows them to reap the proprioceptive sensory benefits. 

In turn, this can help them re-focus if trying to complete a task or create a calm environment and reduce anxious behaviours.

dementia and sensory stimulation (1)

Sensory impairment

Even though sensory stimulation is important for people with dementia, it can sometimes cause them to become overwhelmed. 

When the central nervous system has difficulty processing sensory information, such as sound, it can cause agitated behaviours.

Sensory impairment from dementia is not dissimilar to sensory processing disorder which can cause hyper or hyposensitivity.  

The combined challenges of each condition can be observed in movements, language and social-emotional difficulties or needs.  

 

elderly care and sensory stimulation

How can a weighted lap blanket support sensory impairment?

If agitation occurs as a result of problems with sensory perception, a weighted blanket can be used to help your loved one feel grounded. 

If they are hypersensitive to sound and are affected by sirens or noisy work in the street, a weighted blanket can reduce anxiety. 

For sensory hyposensitivity, the weighted blanket can provide some of the deep touch pressure sensations that they might crave.

dementia weighted lap blanket

What are the other benefits of a weighted lap blanket?

As well as helping your loved one feel grounded, there are a number of other benefits to the weighted lap blanket. 

Provides comfort

Dementia symptoms can be extremely distressing and cause your loved one anxiety, fear and feelings of sadness. 

The way dementia affects the ability to organise thoughts and emotions can make coping difficult and cause anxiety. 

Snuggling up with a weighted lap blanket in a comfy chair can provide immense feelings of safety and comfort. 

This is due to the gentle pressure exerted on the body that has a calming effect that can distract from negative thoughts.

buy dementia fiddle blanket

Seated accessory

The weighted lap blanket has to be used while seated which is helpful if your loved one needs to rest. 

While sitting they could complete daily strength exercises, take medication or eat a nutritious meal. 

It can also be used with a dementia fiddle blanket to provide distractions from noise or anxious behaviours.

Compliments relaxing activities

A relaxing routine with the weighted lap blanket could include watching some dementia TV or listening to some dementia radio stations

Or why not use it when tackling your loved ones favourite dementia puzzles, or while looking at their dementia memory book

dementia and sleep

Improves sleep

Weighted blankets, including lap blankets, help calm feelings of restlessness in the body during the day. 

This can have positive effects on night time routine and sleep, especially if your loved one experiences dementia sundowning

Sundowning is a type of restlessness and agitation experienced by people with dementia that occurs in the evening.   

It is associated with loss of routine, anxiety and being unable to sleep soundly at night. 

Are you worried about a loved one?

Early signs of dementia free guide

lap blanket for dementia

What to consider when buying a weighted lap blanket?

Weighted lap blankets are therapeutic devices and need to match the user’s weight, height and personal preferences.

Here are some questions you may want to consider before you buy a weighted lap blanket or pad. 

  • What is it weighted with? 
  • How much does it weigh?
  • What is the outer fabric or texture? 
  • Is it machine washable?

Weighted lap blanket for dementia: The best buys

hugge weighted lap blanket

hugge Education 1.5kg – 2.5kg Adult Weighted Lap Pad

This great brand offers weighted lap blankets for adults needing a calming sensory moment. 

Suitable for people with dementia, this lap blanket helps reduce fidgeting and encourages focus. 

It is made in the UK with Oeko-Tex certified Minky Fabric on the front and 350gsm cotton fabric on the reverse. 

Filled with food contact safe HDPE plastic pellets.

Harkla Sensory Weighted Lap Pad

Harkla Sensory Weighted Lap Pad 2.3kg

This 2.3kg weighted lap blanket is suitable for adults with dementia and supports relaxation. 

This is a brightly coloured blanket that provides sensory stimulation and deep touch pressure therapy for dementia. 

It uses a soft, dotted fabric for sensory moments and creates a relaxing distraction. 

BARMY Weighted Lap Blanket

BARMY Weighted Lap Blanket 6 lbs

This lighter weighted lap blanket is more versatile and can be placed on the lap, shoulders, back or stomach. 

Soft and dual-sided with Minky dot material on one side and cooling, hypoallergenic bamboo fabric on the other.

It’s filled in sections with microbeads to provide even weight distribution across the blanket. 

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