When providing care for a senior loved one with dementia, you may need to make some adjustments to his or her daily routine. There are many ways to help your parent manage the disease, including an approach called the Montessori Method, which relies heavily on muscle memory and the use of the five senses to stimulate the brain. Here’s how this method works and how you can apply it to your loved one’s dementia care.
Understand the Basis of the Montessori Method
In 1907, an Italian physician named Maria Montessori developed a way to reach students from troubled backgrounds who were thought to be unteachable. The approach is now being used as a way to reach seniors affected by dementia. The Montessori Method focuses on identifying personal strengths, engaging the whole person, and building self-esteem by providing opportunities to be productive and successful.
Create the Right Environment
Try to create an inviting environment with your loved one’s needs in mind. You should include appropriate safety measures, but your loved one shouldn’t feel confined or restrained, and you should also keep the environment free of clutter to create a sense of order and calm. The environment should be easy to use so your loved one is able to live as independently as possible.
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Reconnect with Long-Term Memories
The majority of seniors with dementia still retain long-term memories even in the more advanced stages of the disease. The Montessori Method encourages connecting with these memories to overcome withdrawal, isolation, and paranoia. Browsing through an old photo album or playing your loved one’s favorite music from his or her youth can help him or her reconnect with positive memories.
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Encourage the Use of Motor Skills
Performing simple physical tasks can help your loved one preserve the fine motor skills that help him or her maintain a higher level of independence. For example, having your loved one fold towels or socks not only helps him or her feel productive and valued, but it can also increase his or her dexterity, making it easier to get dressed independently. These types of tasks also encourage your loved one to tap into the procedural memories most often used to perform the activities of daily living.