Montessori methods for people with dementia

Montessori methods are now a popular and powerful way to support the lives and capabilities of people with dementia. This post and a previous post offer resources on Montessori activities and how to implement Montessori-based activities.

PurposefulActivitiesMontessoriWebsite: Purposeful activities for people with dementia: a resource, Alzheimer’s Australia VIC, 2015

Purposeful Activities for Dementia is a Montessori-based professional development and education resource developed for aged care and dementia care staff and carers.

Purposeful activities for Dementia complements other professional development resources about engaging people with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, including the downloadable Relate Motivate Appreciate toolkit. Purposeful activities for dementia was developed by Alzheimer’s Australia VIC for families and aged care staff.

Purposeful Activities for Dementia offers practical ways that carers – including activity support workers, personal care attendants and other aged care professionals – can work together to engage people living with dementia in purposeful activities at home and in social groups.

The videos by Alzheimer’s Australia VIC on this website explore the way in which Montessori techniques can enrich the lives of people living with dementia. Many of the educational activities in the following video are based on this approach.

dementia journalArticle: Effects of using nursing home residents to serve as group activity leaders: Lessons learned from the RAP project by Michael J. Skrajner, Jessica L. Haberman, Cameron J. Camp, Melanie Tusick, Cristina Frentiu, and Gregg Gorzelle, Dementia: The international journal of social research and practice, Volume 13, Number 2, March 2014

Previous research has demonstrated that persons with early to moderate stage dementia are capable of leading small group activities for persons with more advanced dementia. In this study, we built upon this previous work by training residents in long-term care facilities to fill the role of group activity leaders using a Resident-Assisted Programming (RAP) training regimen. There were two stages to the program. In the first stage, RAP training was provided by researchers. In the second stage, RAP training was provided to residents by activities staff members of long-term care facilities who had been trained by researchers. We examine the effects of RAP implemented by researchers and by activities staff member on long-term care resident with dementia who took part in these RAP activities. We also examined effects produced by two types of small group activities: two Montessori-based activities and an activity which focuses on persons with more advanced dementia, based on the work of Jitka Zgola. Results demonstrate that levels of positive engagement seen in players during RAP (resident-led activities) were typically higher than those observed during standard activities programming led by site staff. In general, Montessori-Based Dementia Programming® produced more constructive engagement than Zgola-based programming (ZBP), though ZBP did increase a positive form of engagement involving observing activities with interest. In addition, RAP implemented by activities staff members produced effects that were, on the whole, similar to those produced when RAP was implemented by researchers. Implications of these findings for providing meaningful social roles for persons with dementia residing in long-term care, and suggestions for further research in this area, are discussed.

Note: should you be interested in this article please request it through our handy form.

you say goodbye_webBook: You say goodbye and we say hello : the Montessori method for positive dementia care by Tom and Karen Brenner, ©2012

This book aims to help dementia caregivers connect with their loved ones-in sometimes surprising ways.

Caregiving for a person with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease can be fraught with frustration, but it all can be rewarding in ways that may surprise a caregiver. Getting to those rewarding moments is the subject of You Say Goodbye and We Say Hello, a new book by husband-and-wife team Tom and Karen Brenner.

You Say Goodbye and We Say Hello is an inspiring, eye-opening look into how using The Montessori Method for memory support and creating a positive environment can deepen the connection between caregivers and the people they love. – Sam Gaines, Managing Editor, Preserving Your Memory Magazine

Article: Montessori based dementia programming® by Michael J. Skrajner [et al]  Alzheimer’s Care Quarterly, Vol. 8, Issue 1, January/March 2007, p. 53-63

Montessori-Based Dementia Programming® (MBDP) is a method of creating and presenting activities/interventions. The Myers Research Institute conducted several studies, each of which involved the use of MBDP in a different setting/situation. Staff members from nursing homes, adult day centres, and assisted living facilities were trained to implement MBDP, as were family members and even persons in the early stages of dementia. In addition, a Montessori-based assessment tool is being developed for use in restorative nursing for persons with moderate to advanced dementia. An overview of each study is provided, as are the findings and implications of each study.

Note: should you be interested in this article please request it through our handy form.

EvalMontPrincReport: Evaluation of Montessori principles in planned activity groups for people with dementia, Australian Centre for Evidence Based Aged Care, La Trobe University, 2015

In 2014, Alzheimer’s Australia Victoria implemented a pilot project to evaluate the impact of Montessori-based activities on the engagement of people with dementia attending planned activity groups (PAG) at two sites in metropolitan Melbourne, Victoria. Funding for the project was provided by the Commonwealth and Victorian governments under the Home and Community Care (HACC) Program. The overall goal of the project was to improve the engagement of people with dementia in purposeful activity by incorporating Montessori principles in planned activity groups.

Findings show that the application of the Montessori principles to activities statistically improved constructive engagement, pleasure and helping among clients in the two participating planned activity groups. The findings also suggest that the Montessori education may improve staff satisfaction and attitudes to people with dementia.

dementia journalArticle: Montessori programming for persons with dementia in the group setting:an analysis of engagement and affect by Shannon E Jarrott, Tsofit Gozali & Christina M Gigliotti,  Dementia, Vol. 7, no. 1 February 2008, p. 109-125

Implementing meaningful activities for persons with dementia reduces boredom, agitation, and negative affect. Previous research demonstrated that Montessori activities, modified for persons with dementia, facilitate positive engagement and affect. We conducted activities in small parallel group settings to support social interactions and reflect typical staff-to-client ratios in institutional activity settings. The amount and type of engagement and affect were compared during Montessori-based activities and regularly scheduled activities of 10 older adults with dementia at an adult day program. Participants exhibited more constructive engagement and less non-engagement during Montessori-activities compared to regular activities. Affect did not differ between the activity conditions. We conclude with a discussion of research and practice methodology modifications.

Note: should you be interested in this article please request it through our handy form.

blog_screen_montessoriBlog: The Montessori Approach for people with dementia, Dementia Resources blog, July 2013

Montessori is a topic close to my heart.  Part of my own schooling was Montessori and my children attend a Montessori school.  For me, what really appeals is the dignity and respect which the students are afforded.  The sense of satisfaction and well-deserved pride they derive from mastering an activity is heart-warming to see.  When I discovered that the Montessori principles were also enriching the lives of people with dementia I was really excited.  It’s such a natural extension of this incredibly flexible, carefully-constructed and intelligent educational philosophy.

This post includes a number of Montessori resources including those of Cameron J. Camp and the popular Relate Motivate Appreciate resource produced by Alzheimer’s Australia VIC.

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