How Montessori is Transforming Memory Care at Clark

Maybe you’ve heard of the Montessori Method for children, but did you know that this method can also be beneficial for those experiencing memory loss? Clark is the first life-plan community in the United States to adopt the Montessori for Aging and Dementia program. Our award-winning dementia care is AMI certified in Montessori for Dementia and Aging and has been long ahead of the curve in our approach to memory care.

Using the Montessori Method, Clark focuses on creating meaningful routines, activities based on interest, and building a supportive environment with memory cues for our residents.

Navigating memory loss as a caregiver can be challenging, but incorporating Montessori principles can have a positive impact on those experiencing memory loss. Here’s what you need to know about the Montessori Method in memory care.

What are the Montessori Principles?

The Montessori Method was developed over 100 years ago by Dr. Maria Montessori. She developed a new approach to education that focused on creating a safe, secure, and controlled environment where students with learning differences could thrive.

This method has proven to also be successful in dementia care. Some of the principles include:

  1. Creating a supportive environment. The key is a small and manageable environment that’s also clutter-free to promote a feeling of safety.
  2. Independence. Dr. Maria Montessori is famously quoted to say “Everything you do for me, you take away from me.” Montessori principles center around as much independence as possible. People with dementia are capable of many tasks and can recover old skills while also acquiring new ones.
  3. Meaningful Activity. It’s important to focus on activities that are meaningful to that person, and not just “busy work” to keep them occupied. Find ways to focus on the things that your loved one has always loved doing like gardening or drawing.
  4. Respect. A big part of the Montessori philosophy centers around respect towards the person experiencing memory loss at all times. This means respecting the person’s current perception, even if it’s wrong. Remember to lead with kindness rather than focusing on what’s wrong or incorrect.

How Clark is incorporating Montessori into Memory Care

At Clark, our Memory Care program is person-centered and emphasizes resident choice, independence and preserves the self-worth of all residents. A key factor of this program is giving residents a sense of purpose. We do so by creating an environment that supports and empowers older adults to be as independent as possible.

Some Montessori activities we have adopted:

  • Using green name badges for staff, volunteers, and residents. Green is the last color dementia patients lose the ability to see, so green is a good color for caregivers to wear. Name badges allow residents to call everyone by name and feel a mutual level of respect.
  • Creating a sense of community between residents. A resident might be working on an activity like sorting seashells and another joins them because it looks interesting and they can work together.
  • Giving residents activities to help with things such as setting the table, handing out salads during mealtime, or folding clothes.
  • Residents love tending to their garden, especially if they are used to being a caregiver themselves.
  • Activity areas are visually organized with the appropriate level of stimulation. There are interesting things to do both for individuals but also as a group.
  • The addition of signs such as “please put the puzzle together” or “please enjoy a snack” to act as a cue for residents to engage in activities
  • Wayfinding cues on posters
  • Room signs that include a picture of themselves.

These activities and helpful things have given our residents a new sense of purpose.

Montessori Activities

For Caregivers: Incorporating Montessori in Your Home

One easy way to apply the Montessori principles in your home to help your loved one is to reduce any unhelpful stimulation. This could include:

  • Radio
  • TV
  • Outside noises
  • Dishwasher
  • Background noise
  • Vacuum noises
  • Dog barking
  • Clutter

Instead, focus on helpful stimulation such as contrasting colors, keeping familiar objects around, and wayfinding signs such as labeling rooms. All of this helps a person find their way around the home without having to ask where things are.

Giving this person well-defined pathways at their home and things to look at can be beneficial for them.

Learn More:

If you think your loved one could benefit from Memory Care and our Montessori approach, you can connect with us at marketing@clarkretirement.org or 616-278-6520 or fill out the form below to schedule a discovery call to discuss your unique situation and see if Clark is the right fit for your loved one.

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