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We often hear about “Person Centered Care” in the media and from healthcare professionals, but what does it actually mean? What is person centered care in dementia? In terms of an actual definition, I like this one from University of Buffalo Institute for Person‐Centered Care, The State University of New York the best:
"Person Centered Care encourages the highest level of quality of life and seeks to put the person ahead of the task while creating an environment that promotes a true quality of life regardless of physical or cognitive condition, wherever services are received or people reside."
There have been many articles written about coloring books for adults and recently Gail Elliot of DementiAbility wrote about the research supporting the therapeutic benefits of their use for people with dementia. An effective creative art therapy program can be designed around using these coloring pages, both at home and in facilities. Depending on the people involved, large group, small group or an individual program may be most appropriate.
Because we are generally less alert and not as inclined to concentrate in the period after lunch or in the early afternoon, this is an ideal time for creative programs. These programs tend to be not as demanding of cognitive or physical abilities, and they are relaxing and so best suited to that time period.
In a previous article we offered suggestions on ways to get your Montessori dementia program going ("Montessori Quickstart"). Since then, we have had a couple of interesting discussions with people about the problem.
One person thought that rather than concentrate on small group programming for dementia and Alzheimer patients as we suggested, maybe it would be better to offer more training to recreation staff on providing individualized one-on-one activities and provide them with the necessary materials. She suggested that with 100 residents and 3 staff working four 8 hour days each, each dementia resident could receive individualized attention.
Many articles have been written over the years about choosing gifts for people with dementia. Most focus on “activities of daily living” ideas, such as adaptive clothing, large size clocks and the like. Although they include many creative and thoughtful suggestions and there’s no question that these are important, there’s more to selecting an appropriate gift. In this article we will focus on gifts that can be used to engage the person with dementia in meaningful activity.
Like anything that is worthwhile, it isn’t easy. There are many considerations when selecting a gift and knowing the person is starting point. When selecting a gift for someone with dementia, start by asking yourself - WHO is the person? What are their interests, abilities and needs?
What is "Montessori"? That's a good question. Try searching the internet and see what you find. You'll find a lot of talk about the Montessori environment, about the benefits of the approach, about nurturing and independence. But you probably won't find a succinct definition of the Montessori approach. In fact, I'm still looking for one!
Choosing an activity for a person with dementia is not easy. The activities not only have to be of interest to them, the person must also be able to do them successfully. Even though they may have had a hobby that they loved, just throwing them into the middle of it likely won't work. Rather, it will be frustrating for them because they realize that they can no longer do it. They could easily be disinterested and even get angry. It is important for their self-esteem that they are able to participate in the activity and experience a sense of accomplishment.
As a professional working in a facility, you are already aware of, and probably putting into practice, many of the concepts presented here.
The Montessori way is not revolutionary nor is it in conflict with your current approach. It does, however, provide a methodology and framework that can help you provide excellent dementia care consistently. Understanding the Montessori approach can help you discover ways to overcome problems, minimize responsive behaviors and help your dementia clients be the best they can.
Dementia is an all-encompassing term that covers many different diseases. What they all have in common is that all types of dementia are caused by damage to the brain. The difference between the dementias is the part of the brain that has been damaged. Understanding the exact type of dementia isn't as important as understanding how it affects the person and what we can do to help.
One way of understanding this is to look at the Seven A's of Dementia. Each of the "A's" represents damage to a different part of the brain. While we talk about them separately, a person with dementia may experience any number of the Seven A's depending on the form of the disease.
Learning about the Seven A's helps us to understand the way a person with dementia sees the world, which gives us insight that can help us better interact with the person, and develop supportive care strategies.
Most facilities have some type of form to collect information about the interests of each resident from family members, and we provide a form in our workshop materials (which you can download here). Using a checklist rather than just working from memory is important because it can remind family members of interests that the person with Alzheimer's or dementia had in the past but haven’t done in a long time. These are often the most successful interests to draw on.
The look of joy and satisfaction on the face of a person with dementia 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.