Ever heard of a twiddlemuff? Imagine a soft, colorful knitted muff adorned with interesting buttons, bows and bits. This unique piece offers comfort and care to residents diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. When King-Bruwaert House Social Worker Megan Schaaf read an article on Facebook about the use of twiddlemuffs to engage residents, she quickly turned to members of our K-B knitting group, Operation Warm Hearts, and asked if they could create the muffs.
“As dementia progresses, fidgeting can become common and I have observed that some of our residents are often looking for something to do with their hands,” Schaaf explained. I felt like the twiddlemuffs could help to ease their boredom and anxiety – and encourage small motor movement, too.”
“K-B is fortunate to have our Operation Warm Hearts group,” Schaaf said, “and I thought this would be a project they might be willing to take on to benefit our residents.”
Member Rose Ann Hoof was immediately intrigued. A talented artisan with impressive knitting, crocheting and specialty skills, Hoof researched several twiddlemuff patterns and came up with her own rendition. First, she made several proto-types and then began to show them to other members.
“I created a pattern that was a little easier to follow and the effort turned out very well,” Hoof said. “I showed the muff and pattern to a friend (Mary Therese Hester) and she was glad to help, too.”
According to research, the twiddlemuffs (often called fidget muffs), encourage hands-on use and trigger brain stimulation. Patients find the muffs to be comforting and therapeutic – similar to a favorite stuffed animal or a cherished blanket. Hoof opted to attach old house keys to several of the muffs – the key being a common object that connects the person to home and security.
Those with dementia benefit from regular, repeated behaviors and activities. If residents become agitated or out-of-sorts whenever routine schedules or settings change, evidence shows the twiddlemuffs offer distraction from the unknown and help to soothe anxiety.
For Hoof and Hester, making the twiddlemuffs has been personally rewarding – especially in knowing that their efforts have a purpose.
“I like the whole idea of helping our residents and giving back to the community,” Huff said. “This is a project that makes a difference.”