The Montessori Method for Aging and Dementia is an innovative approach to dementia care that can be adapted for individuals or groups as a philosophy of care. The goal of the Montessori program is to support people living with dementia by creating a prepared environment, filled with cues and memory supports creating the opportunity for “meaningful work” that enables individuals to care for themselves, others, and their community so that they may live as independently as possible.
The environment must be beautiful and free of clutter. Create visual signage, cues and reminders for the adult, have materials out and accessible, and create safe spaces for movement and mobility for all members of the community.
The adult is always invited to participate activities and assisted to find meaningful roles and responsibilities within the community. The hand, to heart, to head connection is muscle memory. Many times people living with dementia access memories through familiar movement.
Focus on the abilities (physical and cognitive) that are still present in the adult, meet them where they are. Offer choice in activities and break down the steps from simple to more complex. Talk slowly, demonstrate and repeat rather than explaining. Always ask for feedback, ‘Did you enjoy doing this?’ ‘Would you like to do it again?’
Adults living with dementia, are just that; adults. They may share a dementia diagnosis, but may have little else in common with the other adults in the environment. Think engagement and respectful interaction as adults participate in a meaningful way within the community.
Activities should have a sense of real purpose for the individual with dementia, and capture the person’s interests and past experiences.
Create real life materials which require physical manipulation to use successfully. Make sure every “work” or project is complete and has all items necessary to be completed successfully. The work should be self-correcting, with clear instructions for the adult to follow.
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