The Montessori approach
Meaningful activity and occupation is intrinsic to a good life.
The Montessori method was originally used with disadvantaged children to provide them with opportunities to meaningfully interact with their environments. Adapting the approach for adults with memory difficulties supports the development of meaningful activities that enhance the person’s quality of life.
Why the Montessori approach?
Montessori principles include acceptance, affirmation, enablement, respect and communication. There is a focus on retained abilities rather than deficits and the creation of a “failure-free” environment. Because Montessori-based activities aren’t based on “thinking”, focused instead on non-verbal communication and other skills, they are perfectly suited to people with dementia.
As dementia progresses, words increasingly don’t work. Conversation can be difficult and stressful for a person who can no longer process language. The Montessori approach is a valuable tool that opens many opportunities for engagement and enjoyment. If you visit a relative in a nursing home, consider doing something together.
“Activities serve a much greater function than making it easier to have a visit. They allow us to rediscover the person who is hidden by the deficits.” Dr Cameron Camp, a neuro-psychologist with the Center for Applied Research in Dementia, Ohio, US, who devised the adapted Montessori approach for people with dementia.