Hand muffs for dementia

Learn to knit a hand muff

What started as a search for a worthwhile project for a knitting group at St. Joseph’s to pursue in their leisure time, is resulting in creations that soothe and calm people with dementia. 

hand muff knitters

Pictured: Cindy Pandke, Noelle Tangredi, and Kim Reid are the core group knitting the hand muffs.

As soon as Noelle Tangredi, eLearning Developer from Organizational Development and Learning Services, came across the inspiring idea of knitted hand muffs (cylinders that keeps hands warm) for people with dementia, she knew it was the perfect fit for her group. “We knit the muffs with soft, chunky or novelty yarns for varying textures, then attach objects like buttons, strings and beads,” she explains.

Related: Learn how to knit a hand muff

The concept behind the muffs is that people with dementia like to have something to keep their hands occupied. The muffs keep hands warm, and provide visual, tactile and sensory stimulation. Behaviour Analyst Bruce McBride explains that when people with dementia are restless, the hand muff provides stimulation and reduces anxiety. 

The hand muffs are having remarkable results for some patients. Jennifer McPhee, a Therapeutic Recreation Aide at Mount Hope, says, “We have a resident who talks loudly and repetitively, but once she puts the hand muff on she becomes very calm.”

At Parkwood Institute, Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (TRS) Tichelle Schram is finding the hand muff particularly helpful with one patient who loves to tinker. “It helps him focus his energy and attention on something positive,” she says. 

Currently the knitting group has donated hand muffs to patients and residents with dementia at Parkwood Institute and Mount Hope who would most benefit, and to others who have asked for them including staff caring for a parent at home who has dementia. 

“This is definitely an easy project for new knitters,” says Noelle.  “We would love it if others in the community want to join in. 

If you would like to knit hand muffs for people with dementia, the pattern is available online. Once completed, please drop off the hand muffs between 8:30 and 4:30 weekdays to:

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