The Montessori method was first introduced as an effective learning method for young children and works under the premise that children learn best when they direct their own learning. Montessori schools approach learning as an interactive process, utilizing play and self-directed curiosity satiation. A relatively new theory uses the same approach to dementia care. Staff in Montessori memory care centers provide the tools that engage all the senses and focus on the individual’s strengths. By providing an engaging environment and purposeful activities, those who suffer from dementia are able to thrive. Join us as we discuss some of the principles of Montessori-inspired memory care.
Activities should be purposeful and capture attention.
Activities should not exist for the sole purpose of passing time or entertainment, but should actively engage those who participate. On the same token, activities do not have to be over-stimulating or deeply challenging. Activities may be as simple as folding laundry, sorting meaningful items, or engaging the senses. Some practical activities include folding laundry, gardening, playing piano, or exploring sensory items. The cognitive level of the patient will direct what they are interested in and how much they interact. Offering choices and allowing the patient the option to participate or not, and to participate at their own pace, is paramount.
Talk less, demonstrate more.
Oftentimes, we tend to explain, explain, explain. Rules, directions, reasons. Montessori learning focuses on hands-on learning and doing — active exploration. Very few people are able to remain engaged through lecture and speech but are much more engaged by watching and doing. It is okay not to fill the airspace. Use visual clues or templates and follow the pacing cues of those who are participating. Try not to overwhelm participants, but keep them engaged. By demonstrating more and talking less, you can participate in the activity yourself while allowing participants to explore their own versions of the activity and derive more satisfaction from it.
Focus on physical skills.
Humans, in general, appreciate more tactile activities. We enjoy holding things and physical activity as opposed to sitting still and reading, watching, or looking. Offer something to hold that appeals to different senses. Perhaps offer different textures or applications. Offer a variety of tasks from very simple to more complex. Some examples of tactile activities include arranging flowers, painting, or dancing.
While treating memory-impaired seniors like children is never a good idea, the Montessori principles of learning are great for any age. Allowing seniors to explore their strengths at their own pace helps reduce negative behaviors that are often associated with overstimulation or boredom, including aggression, anxiety, pacing, and wondering. At Serenity Gardens Memory Care Assisted Living in Friendswood and Dickinson, we apply many Montessori principles to engaging our residents and bringing purpose to their lives. For more information on our programs and what we do to help our residents thrive, connect with us online, or schedule a tour of one of our facilities today.