Finding activities that people living with dementia are able to participate in and enjoy can be challenging.
The Montessori Approach for Dementia Care is a method of working with seniors living with cognitive disorders.
Maria Montessori was an Italian doctor and educator who, in the early 20th century created an educational method of rehabilitation to teach children with mental disabilities. The method eventually expanded to encompass a new way of teaching mainstream children.
Around thirty years ago, Dr Cameron Camp, an American research scientist in the field of ageing, adapted the Montessori method to treat people suffering from Alzheimer’s and related disorders.
Dr Camp’s adaptation of the Montessori method seeks to engage the senses and evoke positive emotions. It involves stimulation of the cognitive, social, and functional skills of each individual.
If at all possible, activity professionals should receive orientation and training from a Montessori-Based Activity Professional. Alternatively here are 2 useful resources:
There are also organisations providing consultancy, training and information on the Montessori approach, contact details can be sourced online.
The original Montessori Method for Dementia Care recommended a one-on-one approach, which posed a challenge to many facilities. In general, the staff-client ratio in assisted care facilities rarely has the means to support this.
This situation can be circumvented if your facility has a strong volunteer program. Activity staff, after being thoroughly trained and familiarized with the underlying principles of the method could then instruct volunteers and family members to facilitate activities.
Research indicates that Montessori activities elicit strong positive engagement in one-on-one settings. However small group settings (2 to 4 people) can also work.
The implementation and application of Montessori-based activities is more specialized than other activities that may form part of your monthly activity program. It is very important to follow the Montessori principles to achieve the therapeutic results.
1. Use Everyday Materials
Use everyday materials that can be held and manipulated.
2. Match Interests & Skills
Activities should match interests and skills of participants.
3. Use Past Experiences & Preferences
Activities should take into account past experiences and preferences of participants.
4. Adapt According to Cognitive & Physcial Status
Adapt activities to the cognitive and physical status of participants.
5. Simplify as Much as Necessary
Break down activities into smaller steps according to needs.
6. Match Speed to Ability
Match the speed of the activity to the abilities of participants.
7. Progress from Simple to Complex
Progress from simple to complex and from concrete to abstract or vice versa as needed.
Demonstrate the activity. While demonstrating place something related to the activity in the hands of participants.
9. Encourage & Assist
Encourage and assist with a minimum of vocalization (serene atmosphere).
Evaluate each session to determine if the activity was successful or requires modification.
Assemble activities together into kits and then:
Once you are well versed in the principles of the Montessori Approach for Dementia Care you will be able to create your own activities.
Here are a few activities based on the Montessori Approach you can find on Golden Carers:
Be aware that issues are bound to arise during a session; participants may get agitated or bored, or may infringe on the space of their peers.
Here are some things that can happen and some suggestions on how to handle them.
We'd love to hear your feedback.
Do you have any Montessori Inspired Activities to share?
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