By Terry Hurley
In many cases, Montessori activities for the elderly help to keep seniors with dementia happier and more productive while boosting their sense of self-worth.
The Montessori Approach to Learning
The Montessori approach to learning is based on the educational theories of Maria Montessori, an Italian educator. This method places great importance on adapting the learning experience to the developmental level of the child. Learning takes place through repetitive, no-fail methods that are adapted to the individual’s specific needs. There is great emphasis on developing fine motor skills and concentration, and building self-esteem.
The following are several of the main principles of the Montessori method of learning:
Each person must be considered as a whole. All aspects of the individual are equally important and inseparable regarding his or her interests and needs. These aspects are:physical,emotional,cognitive,social,spiritual,aesthetic.
It is necessary to show and have respect along with a caring attitude for everyone, including oneself, all life and the environment. A cooperative atmosphere, peer teaching and social interaction are important for learning to occur. Learning takes place through sensory processes that include manipulating objects and interaction with other people.
Modifying the Montessori Method for the Elderly
Many nursing homes, elder care facilities and elder daycare centers are adapting the Montessori methods to their clients suffering from varying degrees of memory loss and dementia caused by conditions such as:
These individuals are given meaningful activities that build upon on their remaining skills and abilities. The Montessori methods can also be used with individuals that have physical, mental or physical and mental types of disabilities. Activity programs that are Montessori-based help to give the elderly suffering from memory loss a sense of task completion and success. These programs often help to reestablish recognition skills and enhance an individual’s memory.