Like many people caring for loved ones with dementia, Penny Long worked hard to reduce her husband's occasional dementia-related agitation.
After her husband Michael died, Penny began volunteering at the Compassus hospice program in Chantilly, Virginia. She learned that frustration and agitation are common with dementia patients. Years later, when reading an article from England on the use of twiddlemuffs to help calm patients, she realized she could have used these soft fabric muffs to reduce Michael's anxiety.
A twiddlemuff is a tube that has been knitted, crocheted or crafted with fabric that has accessories, such as ribbons and buttons, sewn on to them. They usually contain multiple textures, with different items sewn on the inside and outside of the muff, allowing the person’s hands to stay warm while they play with the buttons and ribbons
Many medical facilities have found the muffs have a positive effect on patients by keeping them comforted as well as encouraging movement and brain stimulation. Tiddlemuffs help to ease this agitation and calm the person’s mood as they keep their hands and minds occupied.
With Penny’s help and guidance, the Compassus office reached out to Jane Torman who works with the Knitzvah Group at Congregation Beth Emeth of Herndon, Va. This group crafted a number of twiddlemuffs that have since been distributed to patients who exhibit signs of agitation. Penny’s drive and innovation has been crucial to fostering this relationship and maintaining the twiddlemuffs program.