The Montessori Inspired Lifestyle® approach to caring for those with dementia is a new concept that is gaining interest in the senior care industry.
This innovative approach is relatively new but there is evidence that it can reduce anxiety and the use of chemical restraints for people with dementia by engaging them in both purposeful and meaningful activities.
The Montessori Method of education was developed in the early 20th century, by Maria Montessori. Through her work with underprivileged children she determined that focusing on the individual’s strengths and providing a hands on sensory stimulating environment were both essential elements in the successful learning process. More recently these concepts have been used successfully when caring for persons with dementia and are referred to as the Montessori Inspired Lifestyle® approach.
Montessori based programming utilizes activities as a means to reconnect to persons with dementia who may seem unreachable. This is done by creating experiences where these individuals are able to use their hands and their five senses to engage and stimulate their minds. When an individual with dementia is able to actively participate in experiences and enjoy their successes, their self-esteem increases and they enjoy a sense of accomplishment. The Montessori Inspired Lifestyle® approach focuses on a person’s strengths, on what they CAN do rather than what they can’t. It allows patients to reconnect with a world they’re losing access to and is a source of comfort to them and their loved ones.
The key to successful Montessori programming requires that we change our expectations of what individuals with dementia are capable of. To assume that they can no longer be active participants in their own lives, have new experiences, and connect with others is to further debilitate them. The goal is to engage each person in purpose driven activity that is meaningful to them. This helps to eliminate boredom, helplessness and loneliness and improves overall life satisfaction.
Editor’s Note: This article was submitted by Stacey Flint, Certified Montessori Inspired Lifestyle Trainer, Center for Applied Research in Dementia. Stacey Flint is a Regional Montessori Inspired Lifestyle® Trainer with WindSong Memory Care Communities and may be reached at 503-302-6934 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.