November 22, 2022
Teresa Bechtel, 70, and her mother Shirley Bettcher, 90, have been making Twiddle Muffs for people living with dementia. Twiddle Muffs promote brain stimulation, slow the progression of dementia, provide manual activity to keep the hands busy - plus they’re warm and comforting. Photo supplied.
Story by Kim Bradley
WESTLOCK — A team of volunteers here are crafting Twiddle Muffs to help people living with dementia. But what’s a Twiddle Muff, you say?
“A Twiddle Muff is a tool or aid for people with dementia, but they have other applications, including for anxiety,” says AHS volunteer Teresa Bechtel, 70. “They’re knit or crocheted and stitched together, but before we sew them together, we put keys, buttons, ribbons and all kinds of things on them.”
For her part, Bechtel has been sewing Twiddle Muffs for months with her 90-year-old mom, Shirley Bettcher. They donate them to the Westlock and District Dementia Friendly Working Group, where they become part of the sensory kits the group assembles for people living with dementia.
Make no mistake; crafting Twiddle Muffs takes time, and they’re not easy to make — but they’re a labour of love for Bechtel and Bettcher.
“It’s not like the kitting you can take it to the curling rink. They’re harder to make, and embellishing them is time-consuming,” Bechtel says.
Twiddle Muffs promote brain stimulation for people living with dementia, slow its progression, provide manual activity to keep the hands busy — plus they’re warm and comforting, says Emma Langevin of Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) in Westlock.
She adds that the FCSS is now looking for donations of materials to continue making Twiddle Muffs as well as more volunteers to make them. The goal is 250 muffs, and they have a way to go.
“We’re looking for people to knit them for us, but if people have odds and ends that they’re not going use, we would definitely take those and pass them on to the volunteers who are making them too,” she adds. “What a great way to engage all of our community members who are looking to be involved and give back in some way.”
“The response has been really positive,” adds Bechtel. “I think these are going to be good things for a lot of people. We’re using different patterns, various kinds of yarn, so they have different textures. They’re reversible, too. I find them interesting — and I’m knitting Twiddle Muffs like crazy!”
Anyone looking to donate their knitting skills to the project - or anyone who has donations of buttons, zippers, yarn or ribbons — can reach out to the Westlock FCSS for more information.