The look of joy and satisfaction on the face of a person with de mentia who has just successfully done something that they no longer thought they were capable of doing is a sight to behold. It would be wonderful if every day could be filled with such moments. Using DementiAbility Methods: The Montessori Way™ techniques we can make those moments happen more often.
In the nineteen eighties, Dr. Cameron Camp, a psychiatrist and researcher into aging and dementia, realized that the methods used to teach his children attending a Montessori school might be useful in helping people with cognitive impairment. He started to research the use of the techniques with older adults with dementia and over time adapted Dr. Montessori's methods to better suit them. He proved that the same concepts that were so effective in teaching children are successful in helping people with cognitive loss to live a more satisfying and fulfilling life.
More recently, Gail Elliot, a gerontologist and dementia specialist based in Ontario has furthered this research and developed DementiAbility Methods: The Montessori Way™ workshops and published the textbook "Montessori Methods for Dementia" to help memory care facilities and home caregivers provide a nurturing and successful environment for their clients and loved ones.
The information, activities and tools that you find on this website are based on the Montessori methods developed by Dr. Montessori and the further work done by Cameron Camp and Gail Elliot and our own experience.
One of the key concepts behind the Montessori dementia care approach is to enable the person to do things for them self. As Dr. Montessori said, the idea is to "Help me do it myself". Rather than read the person a story, the Montessori Way is to give the person the book and have them read it. Of course you can't just use any book and expect good results.
The Montessori Way is to provide a reader that overcomes the obstacles to reading. Large print, large pages, easy to handle and easy to understand. A book about something that is appropriate for the person. And you wouldn't just hand the book to the person, using Montessori methods for dementia you would demonstrate how to use it and it becomes a fun and satisfying activity.
Another important concept in the DementiAbility Methods: The Montessori Way™ approach is to treat the individual with respect and dignity. For example, rather than marshalling the person to an event, using Montessori methods for dementia you would let them know what is happening and encourage them to participate. Often this involves breaking the activity down into easier pieces and encouraging the person to do one step at a time. Yes it takes longer than doing it for them, but the results are worth it. Not only does the person feel better about themselves for having done it on their own, they also are less likely to have other issues because they feel more in control of their life.
All of these approaches help the person with brain impairment stay involved at the highest level that they are able. This helps them live a happier and more satisfying life and retain their abilities for as long as possible.
Simple, isn't it? It is, but it takes preparation, knowledge and understanding. You need properly designed and prepared activities that follow Montessori methods for dementia and you have to know how to present them in a way that is positive, nurturing and helpful. If you're ready to get started, you will find ideas for activities that you can make yourself and instructions on how to use them in the articles in this Learning Center, or you can browse around the website and purchase Montessori activities for dementia ready made and ready to use.