Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative

The Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative™ ( was a national grassroots charity that began in 2006 and ended in 2013 with a mission to raise awareness about and to fund Alzheimer’s research. Quilt artist Ami Simms of Flint, Michigan, who founded and served as volunteer executive director of AAQI, was inspired to start this effort by her mother, who had Alzheimer’s. The AAQI auctioned and sold donated quilts, sponsored a nationally touring quilt exhibit, and achieved a goal of raising $1,000,000 to support basic research about dementia and Alzheimer’s.
The Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative was a remarkable art and health project that creatively tapped the energy and knowledge of hundreds of quiltmakers whose donated work and stories advanced awareness of and education about Alzheimer’s disease. It provided a means for sharing visual and written stories about living with the illness, caring for someone with the illness, and honoring and memorializing individuals who lost their lives to the disease. Participation in making donated quilts and/or in viewing the real and online AAQI exhibitions provided a means of coping with the impacts of the illness, a tool for grieving, and a source of comfort. In raising thousands of dollars for bench science, it proved the power of individual artists, especially quiltmakers, to bring about change.
Although the AAQI is officially closed, the quilts made through this project along with their stories continue to help educate individuals about the disease and to provide comfort to those whose lives are impacted by Alzheimer’s and dementia.
In the spirit of AAQI, take time to learn about Alzheimer’s. A good primary source is The annual Alzheimer’s Action Day is September 21 and the color now associated with education and action regarding Alzheimer’s is purple.
View AAQI archived URL here to learn more about the project origins and its activities:
See archived exhibition “Alzheimer's: Forgetting Piece by Piece” here:
See more AAQI quilts here:
Browsing Q.S.O.S. Interviews By Project: The Alzheimer’s Forgetting Piece by Piece QSOS
See descriptions of some of the grants for research funded by AAQI:
Publication of one research study funded by AAQI:
James English, “Stress Hormone Could Trigger Mechanism for the Onset of Alzheimer’s” Nutrition Review, JUNE 20, 2013
Quilt to Remember, another quilt and Alzheimer’s project coordinated by the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America
Learn About Alzheimer’s (from AAQI’s archived page) There are numerous resources from which you can learn more about Alzheimer's disease. For immediate answers to questions about Alzheimer's, support groups, and advocacy visit the Alzheimer's Association. For expert and community answers to questions about Alzheimer's and news about current research, visit For the best books on Alzheimer's, see our selections below.

Still Alice by Lisa Genova
This haunting novel tells the story of Harvard professor Alice Howland as she first suspects she has Alzheimer's through the struggles and turmoil the disease causes for Alice and her family. Written from Alice's perspective, Genova (a neurologist) weaves a story you will not soon forget especially if you have a loved one with the disease.
The Forgetting: Alzheimer's: Portrait of an Epidemic by David Shenk
This is probably the definitive book on Alzheimer's. It is part history, part science, and will give you a framework onto which you can build your understanding of the disease. If you're not sure where to start with your reading, start here. (There's also a video.)
Dancing With Rose by Lauren Kessler
Lauren is a gifted writer. She took a job as a "resident assistant" at an Alzheimer's care facility for five months and wrote about what she did and what she learned. She says it was "the hardest and best work I've ever done." I believe it. My plan was to savor this book and read only a chapter a day. I couldn't. I read it practically straight through. It explains a lot. It helped me understand the dynamics of the facility in which my mother is living. Anyone involved with the care of a loved one with Alzheimer's should read this book, especially if you are contemplating a move to an Alzheimer's facility. So should professional caregivers.
Learning to Speak Alzheimer's by Joanne Konig Coste
I've had the pleasure not only of reading Joanne's book, but of corresponding with her too. Recently, at a lecture she gave in Alma, Michigan, we were able to meet. Her book is wonderful. Her own personal experiences as a care partner are so poignant, and the advice she gives is so important. Don't miss this one. If you are caring for a loved one with Alzheimer's it will help you understand and it will help you cope.
Alzheimer's From The Inside Out by Richard Taylor
This book is courageous, inspirational, and totally compelling. Richard has Alzheimer's. His essays are about his journey through this disease. They will break your heart and somehow lift it at the same time.
Aging With Grace: The Nun Study by David Snowden
This is a tremendous book about a most unusual research project that reads more like a mystery novel than a record of scientific discovery. Yet the discoveries about Alzheimer's that have come from this long-term study are remarkable — as are the women who have dedicated their lives to helping others, even in death.
Where's My Shoes? by Brenda Avadian
This one made the short list because it's real: the author put the book together using her own journal entries, which had been kept daily as her father descended into his journey through Alzheimer's. It's authentic: you can FEEL the anguish and confusion that come with learning about elder care while simultaneously realizing that it is YOUR parent who is in need of help (not to mention realizing how little you know, how ill-prepared you are to cope, and how much help YOU need)... And then there's the title itself: Anyone who has spent any time at all with an Alzheimer's patient has heard their version of the plaintive "Where's my _______" question over and over and over...
(Reviewed by Julie Sefton.)
The 36-Hour Day by Nancy Mace and Peter Rabins
Originally written in the 1980's this little paperback has been updated many times and is the "bible" for Alzheimer's home care. It's pages are chock full of practical how-to advice for nearly every situation from getting medical help, to daily care, to helping the caregiver struggle through it all.
Elder Rage: Or, Take My Father…Please! by Jacqueline Marcell
This is a fast read, written in a unique style (punctuated throughout with humorous movie, television, and pop culture references) by a former VP of a television production facility who finds herself taking care of her parents. Sometimes you just gotta laugh. This book proves that sometimes, just knowing you're not the only one going through this, makes it bearable.
Partial View: An Alzheimer's Journal by Cary Smith Henderson and Nancy Andrews
Short narratives written by a history professor who is losing his own personal history to Alzheimer's are paired with black and white photographs taken of him and his family by an award-winning photographer. The combination is insightful and moving. It will open your eyes and your heart.

Marsha MacDowell; Beth Donaldson; Clare Luz
Michigan State University, 2015
All rights reserved


The development of this gallery and addition of the collection of Alzheimer’s Art Quilt Initiative records were made possible by a grant from Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs with in-kind support from Michigan State University Museum, MSU College of Human Medicine, and MSU’s MATRIX: Center for Digital Humanities and Social Sciences.
  • Documentation Project

    Quilts and Health

    Michigan State University

  • Museum

    Michigan State University Museum

    Michigan Quilt Project

  • Ephemera

    Womenfolk 27. The Evolution of Art Qui...

    Breneman, Judy Anne

  • Spring 2006

    Research Now...Th...

    Daniel, Nancy Brena...

  • 2008

    Once A Shining St...

    Marshall, Helen

  • May 2006

    Losing My Mind On...

    Caldwell, Janet

  • 1/24/2006


    Campbell, Elsie M.

  • 2008


    Huff, Linda J.

  • 2004

    Mom’s Alzheimer...

    Koeppe, Madeleine

  • 2000-2025

    Kaffe's Flowers

    Larson, Lora

  • Various Diamonds

    Rippie, Mamie

  • 1930-1949

    Sunbonnet Sally, ...

    Cellemme, Josephine...

  • 2002

    Country Village

    DeKoning, Annie

  • 2013

    Alzheimer’s Nam...

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