Montessori for Dementia and Alzheimer’s Patients

Montessori approach to re-engage the types of memory that are spared by dementia, including motor memory such as how to dress and how to eat. An example of a skills-building activity that Dr. Camp employs involves Alzheimer’s patients using a slotted spoon to dig in a tub of dry rice for objects that are buried beneath the surface. When they find a “treasure,” the rice falls through the slots, leaving the object on the spoon. In the process, their brains are re-learning the motor skills that are necessary to feed yourself.

“We want to flip the system on its ear,” Dr. Camp says, “to change people’s expectations about what people with dementia are capable of. Our job is to allow this person to be present — to help them, wherever they are in the journey of dementia, to be connected with a community and contribute to the best of their ability.”

Let’s take a look at different ways caregivers can put Montessori into practice.

1. Prep tables with materials for activities such as puzzles, sorting exercises and other games.

2. Lay out a basket of clean towels to fold.

3. Have a basket of clean socks that need to be matched and folded.

4. Put out a bin of plastic plumbing tubes that can be connected and put together.

5. For advanced dementia patients who may take comfort in holding dolls, a series of dolls and doll clothes can make for a pleasurable activity.

6. For those who enjoy cooking or baking, a safe kitchen environment and baking ingredients.

What we’re increasingly learning is that dementia patients can come to not only enjoy the process of participating in something they used to regularly do, but also come away with a definite sense of accomplishment that can help improve their quality of life.

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