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How to Knit Twiddle Muffs to Calm and Soothe Seniors with Dementia

Give dementia and Alzheimer’s patients the power of self-soothing with knitted Twiddle Muffs

Once upon a time, we had no idea how to treat folks who don’t fit into our so-called societal norms.

Neurological divergencies and disorders such as autism, dementia, ADHD, epilepsy, and the like were unknown and seemingly unknowable. Their manifestations ranged from annoying to terrifying, from frustrating to mortifying.

Folks who didn’t fit into those societal norms were often locked up, shunted away from polite society.

Though much work remains, we are finally beginning to understand and offer more compassionate approaches that allow neurological diversity to flourish alongside folks without such challenges.

One such way is helping folks with dementia to calm themselves.

How Twiddle Muffs Help People with Dementia

Sensory equipment is fast becoming a medication-free way to help those with neurological diversity and disorder, such as people with dementia, to calm their own agitations. And twiddle muffs are quickly becoming a popular way to do so.

Twiddle muffs are a type of sensory band. It is a pocket, or tube, with attachments both inside and out. These attachments comprise a variety of items that patients can twiddle and fiddle with. This tube is frequently knitted, crocheted, or sewn.

The twiddling and fiddling provide a measure of self-soothing for these patients, who are calmed by having something to do with their hands.

The tube, or “muff,” also comes in handy because people with dementia often have poor circulation in their hands and feet, leading to coldness. The muff naturally keeps their hands warm.

You can find anecdotal evidence of the power of twiddle muffs here. You can also find a twiddle muff fact sheet here; click the link in the web page to download the PDF.

twiddle muffs
Photo: Brett Summerville

Knitting Twiddle Muffs to Help Dementia and Alzheimer’s Patients

The following Twiddle Muff pattern comes courtesy of Brett Summerville, from A Perfect Family Circle in southern New Jersey. (If you live in this area and would like to offer your own Twiddle Muffs, he would love to accept them! Scroll to the end for information.)

Instructions for Twiddle Muffs
Supplies needed:

  • 6.5mm straight needles (US size 10.5) or 8mm circular needles (US size 11).
  • Beads, zippers, ribbons, or anything else you can add that can be “twiddled” with, without breaking.
  • Assorted yarn. Twiddle Muffs are perfect for using up leftover yarn, and the more colors and textures you have, the better!

Directions:

1. Make the band: Cast on 40 stitches using 2 strands of DK yarn (or one strand of chunky yarn). Work in stockinette stitch for 11 inches (28 cm).

2. Continue with the body: Continue in stockinette stitch, using various textures and colors of yarn, until the piece measures 23 inches (58 cm). Cast off.

3. Decorate and finish: Attach beads, flowers, zippers, loops, or anything else people can fiddle with. Make sure they are attached firmly so they cannot easily be pulled off. Neatly sew sides together with purl side facing you. Turn work inside out and push the band inside the body. Neatly sew together the two ends.

If you live in southern New Jersey, you can send your completed Twiddle Muff(s) to Brett at this address:
Brett Summerville
22 Cochise Circle
Medford Lakes, NJ 08055

Brett will distribute Twiddle Muffs to seniors at A Perfect Family Circle, as well as other similar centers in the area.

If you don’t live in South Jersey and would prefer to knit locally, contact senior centers in your area and see if they would be interested in Twiddle Muffs.

For more information about making Twiddle Muffs for Brett’s organization, you can email him at [email protected].

Twiddle Muffs are simple and rewarding, and they can offer a powerful gift to seniors with dementia: the gift of self-soothing. What a beautiful way to offer comfort and support!

Twiddle Muffs for Dementia Patients
Want more free knitting patterns for charity? Click here for your copy of “4 Quick Charity Knitting Wins” and start making a difference today!

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