Twiddle the Anxiety Away

Published In Blog

If your loved one has dementia, you’ve probably seen how anxious they become, especially during the later afternoons and evenings. Sundowning is a term used to explain how dementia patients become nervous and anxious once the sun starts going down. Some very crafty ladies in Canada and the United Kingdom found a way to help with that anxiety. They began knitting twiddle muffs.

What They Are

Twiddle Muffs are brightly colored hand muffs with buttons, ribbons and bobbles attached inside and out. Some people with dementia tend to “pluck” at their clothes when becoming anxious. Twiddle muffs not only warm cold hands but keep them busy fondling the buttons and bobbles. They’ve actually done studies on the muffs and found them soothing to those with dementia. Some care homes find their residents often need less medication when they use the muffs.

Patterns for Twiddle Muffs

Patterns for Twiddle Muffs are available to download online. I found one in seconds from the United Kingdom with instructions for American users. This pattern is free because Shirley McDonald, its creator, is thrilled people want to help those with dementia.

“Thank you to everyone who has made this pattern — you’ve made life better for an awful lot of people,” says McDonald on her website.

It’s an easy pattern and most knitters and crochet buffs have plenty of leftover yarn to use, making them inexpensive to create.

Spread the Joy of Giving

One charitable group in New Brunswick meets every week to knit twiddle muffs. Read their story. They’ve made over 100 muffs and donated them to a local care home where the executive director was very happy with the results.

Why not start your own group of twiddle muffers?

The Joy of Creating — Good for All!

Even people with mild to moderate dementia who used to knit can once again pick up their needles and knit away. Dr. Arnold Bresky helped start groups called Hands of Kindness all over Southern California to help dementia patients deal with isolation. Knitting in a group seems to open them up and get conversations going. The tactile nature of knitting seems to stay with them even though they have dementia. Wouldn’t it be a great project to start at your loved one’s assisted living or with a church group or club?

Photo Credit: Hilppa/hypistelymuhvi.

(This article was reviewed April, 2024 since it originally published November, 2016.)

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