There are over 50 million people worldwide living with dementia and its symptoms of cognitive impairment. The most common types of dementia are:

  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Lewy Body Dementia
  • Vascular Dementia
  • Frontotemporal Dementia

Although all are dementia, the effects on each person can be quite different.

Over the years, care for people with dementia has improved through “new” methods such as the Montessori Method. In the Montessori Method, when you are working with a person, you must see the whole person first and consider the person’s capabilities, needs, history, background and interest. All behaviors have reason and with critical thinking caregivers can adjust problematic behaviors.

In the Montessori Method, the caregiver looks to engage and challenge the person with dementia while staying close to their comfort zone and interests. These tasks should meaningful, slightly challenging tasks based on their physical skills and background. All tasks should have a purpose, but the person should have a choice. By using all the senses and the capabilities of the person, the Montessori Method helps resident discover the world around them and reconnect with memories the resident still has. This allows them to engage with others and slow cognitive decline. Plus, engagement can help reduce the depression that often accompanies dementia.

A few tips interacting and engaging with someone with dementia:

  1. Work within the reality of the person
  2. Create a positive environment
  3. Demonstration over talking
  4. Providing purpose and accomplishment
  5. Focus on the abilities that remain
  6. Give love and happiness
  7. Engage with a challenge
  8. Slow down
  9. Breakdown a task into smaller simple tasks

Many retirement communities offer memory care support. At United Zion Retirement Community, a local Lititz-base Life Plan Community, staff is trained on the Montessori Method for all levels of care as well as several other methods. They find the Montessori Method a good fit for the person-center care culture at United Zion and their integrated approach to memory care. The incorporation of the Montessori Method into the memory care program at United Zion has helped residents with improving moods and engaging with others. Staff at United Zion state that it is about entering the world of the person with dementia, understanding them and thinking critically about how to reach them.

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