The Montessori Method and Dementia: How it’s Used in Memory Care at Heritage

The Montessori Method and Dementia: How it’s Used in Memory Care at Heritage

At Heritage Communities, the Montessori method is proving to be a powerful tool for enhancing the lives of residents in memory care senior living communities engage their senses and rediscover the world around them.

The Montessori method and dementia: helping residents feel a sense of accomplishment

People with dementia often feel they are always being told what to do, with little control over their lives. The Montessori approach to dementia focuses on rediscovering and supporting the person behind the disease. Activities with meaning and purpose are put back into people’s lives, based on their needs, interests, skills and abilities.

Cindy Powell, Life Enrichment Director at Orchard Pointe at Terrazza in Peoria, Arizona, says the key is to find activities that relate to each person. “We choose activities that match the level of where that individual is,” she said. “The goal is to let them do it their way; to give them some sense of ownership in their life. One resident might be working on a craft. Another might have the task of setting a table or being asked to put away the items on their dining tray. We want them to have a sense of pride in what they are doing.”

Portraits®, the exclusive memory care program of Heritage Communities

This memory care program unique to Heritage Communities features individualized, multisensory activities based on the philosophies of Dr. Maria Montessori designed to help each resident:

  • Remain as independent as possible
  • Engage with people and enjoy new and beloved activities
  • Enjoy a meaningful place in their community
  • Enhance self-esteem
  • Discover opportunities to contribute to their environment

Snapshots: The Heritage Communities program for seniors with mild cognitive impairment

The Snapshots program, exclusive to Heritage Communities, is for those with mild cognitive impairment. These residents also benefit from the powerful connection of the Montessori method and dementia. Participating residents have the opportunity to join and enjoy social engagement through thoughtfully designed activities in small groups, or one-on-one.

“Snapshots is perfect for those who are not as likely to engage or are a bit self-conscious about being in a group,” says Powell. “So, we place them in a smaller group, still doing the same activities we do with our larger group of residents. We strive to help these residents enjoy fun, social events, when larger group activities may create frustration and distraction. Often, they eventually feel comfortable enough to join the larger group. But if they don’t wish to do that, it’s fine.”

Snapshots structured activities happen several times a week, at times and places most comfortable for the residents. “Our goal is to help residents with mild cognitive impairments once again enjoy leisure activities they may have not enjoyed for some time,” says Powell. “We also will visit a resident’s room to chat or do an activity with them if they are more introverted,” she said. “Always, the goal is to keep exercising, socializing, pushing their brains.”

Download our free guide, The Family Decision Toolkit.

Games are a great way to have fun and feel achievement

One very popular activity that has attracted many residents in memory care at Orchard Pointe at Terrazza is Major League Toss, a game like cornhole but with a baseball theme. “This has become super huge with our residents,” said Powell. “We add the elements of a major league experience like the seventh inning stretch and even fireworks. It gets loud in the lobby! Everyone loves it. And those on walkers have no problem tossing a ball through the hole. It’s a great way to inspire these residents to come together, play a complex game, and get some exercise. They feel accomplishment as well.”

For Powell and her tireless team members at Orchard Pointe at Terrazza, giving each person an experience, they can learn from and enjoy is the way to successfully merge the Montessori method and dementia.

“During these years of a senior’s life, they should be thriving, not just surviving,” she says. “These should be the best golden years of their life. And if we can keep them engaging, they can maintain their cognitive function longer than if they are just sitting at home and not doing much.”

Powell says the continuous engagement is another reason why the Heritage Communities’ Portraits Memory Care program and the Snapshots Program in assisted living are such good choices.

“At home, families can’t usually duplicate these games, or have the time to engage as much with their parent. Here, in a Heritage community, residents are socializing, learning, being stimulated all the time, and feeling encouragement. It’s a win for everyone: families can enjoy visiting their parent, while still living their own lives; knowing their loved one can benefit from these opportunities right here.”

The Montessori method and dementia: exciting things are happening at Heritage Communities

Heritage Communities offers exceptional and highly personalized services for residents who need dementia care or Alzheimer’s care. Each day, our leadership and care teams actively embody our core values – compassion, trust, respect and fun – while earning the affection of our residents and family members alike.

We are dedicated to providing certified and attentive memory support care to residents with Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and early-stage memory loss. We invite you to learn more.

We get to know, and love, each of our memory care residents. Download our free guide, The Family Decision Toolkit. Or contact us today to learn more or schedule a tour.

click to download our guide, the family decision toolkit