November marks Alzheimer’s Awareness Month. During this time, advocates and organizations work to educate about the symptoms, treatments, and care options associated with Alzheimer’s disease. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 50 million people worldwide are living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias.
To best serve people living with Alzheimer’s, Clark adopted an innovative plan. Clark was the first older adult living community in the United States to implement the Montessori for Aging and Dementia program. This approach to the disease allows residents with memory loss to live joyful and purposeful lives.
The Montessori Program is led by certified Montessori practitioners and offers a safe environment filled with helpful memory cues. Caregivers get to know residents and offer activities curated based on their personal history and interests. This can include hobbies like art or gardening. It can also include simple tasks that bring a sense of familiarity, like setting the table or folding laundry.
Brian Pangle, Clark’s CEO learned of the Montessori approach to memory care several years ago, after hearing Jennifer Brush, a dementia educator and author, speak about the program at a conference in Washington D.C. “This is a person-centered approach, we learn as much as we can about the person’s needs, abilities, preferences, and then we collaborate with them to find ways to enable them to contribute to their community, just as they did before they were living with dementia,” Brush said.
Apart from their Montessori program, Clark also offers a music therapy program facilitated by certified music therapists. This is not only therapeutic but also provides comfort and happiness to residents with memory loss.
According to Chris Simons, Director of Dementia and Life Enrichment Services, “The part of the brain for speech is different than the part processing music. This is why those who can no longer converse or have memory impairment are able to sing a song from beginning to end.”