Montessori Method to Help with Dementia
It turns out that Montessori has benefits after early childhood education… well after. In fact, Montessori materials are shifting from nurseries to nursing homes around the world to help with patients who have dementia. And the results have been quite positive!
The Montessori materials provide an opportunity for tactile engagement, cognitive functioning, and muscle memory. This has evolved into a method for patients to care for themselves and contribute to their community. The nursing home staff has handed over the reigns the patients. It is a much more active role that has resulted in an increased sense of self-worth and engagement. They have also seen decreases in medications and television viewing.
The dignity and self-worth that is embedded in the Montessori method is perhaps the most important element in this adapted model. The materials, many of which relate to care of the self and care of the environment, may not follow a strict Montessori curriculum. But the staff has found that use of these materials has enabled patients to maintain daily activities and use a non-fail method to practice daily tasks. Many of these patients feel more useful, active, and connected. They maintain an active life and feel the satisfaction because of their ability to be more self-sufficient.
The role of the staff has changed as well. They accept a more hands-off approach, and assume the role of the observer and guide. They are more focused on the strengths rather than the limitations. Staff learn to empower these patients in the process. They allow the patients to manage the home in many respects. For the elderly adjusting to a life in a new setting, this must be just what the doctor ordered.
Montessori is a process in many ways over a curriculum. It’s ability to empower and instill independence is proving to help with populations that Maria Montessori might not have even considered. What a beautiful solution it is!