We are proud to share this article written by Beth Ann Scruggs, Director of the Renew Montessori Center for Aging and Memory, an adult day program in Fort Mill, South Carolina. We have been in partnership with Renew since 2020, working with the leadership team to plan and implement a Montessori program, training staff, and providing ongoing coaching as the program got off the ground. We are so proud of all they have accomplished!
The Brush Development team has had the privilege of working with Redstone Presbyterian Communities in Pennsylvania for the past 7 months. We have provided staff training, regularly coaching calls, design advice, and monthly in person mentoring visits to help three of their communities fully implement the Montessori philosophy. In this article, they share what Montessori means to them.
The word for this month is definitely INSPIRATION! I am very blessed that I am able to travel to so many interesting places, share my vision of dementia care, inspire others, and learn from those I meet. I have just returned from Finland, Ireland and Romania where I taught workshops and also took time to learn about the culture and experience some remarkable places. So how has this inspired the way that I approach dementia care?
Evergreen House is the The Village at Summerville’s new memory support neighborhood, which is currently under construction. From Evergreen House’s inception, I have worked in conjunction with Presbyterian Communities of South Carolina and McMillan Pazdan & Smith Architects to design this unique community, which will fully implement the Montessori for Aging and Dementia philosophy.
I love traveling, seeing new things, and meeting wonderful people along the way. The relationships formed during travel are some that I cherish the most. Certainly, COVID has put a damper on that for all of us. In 2019 I was scheduled to go to Finland and present my From Can’t to Can Do! Montessori for Aging and Dementia program. Of course, that was cancelled, and after rescheduling twice, I am pleased to be leaving next week for Helsinki! A group of wonderfully determined women who I first met in Prague are hosting my visit in order pioneer change in elder care. Their group is called Muisti Montessori and here is their story.
In a Montessori community for older adults, a wide range of interesting materials are available on accessible shelves and tables from which individuals can choose. This idea often makes staff in long term care communities nervous when they first learn about it. “You mean everything is out all of the time? You don’t put it away and then bring it to them? Everyone in our community would take things into their rooms. This is never going to work!” I hear this at every single workshop I teach. It can work.
One of the most common questions I am asked by my clients is, “What do I say when residents repeatedly ask me to take them home?” If you work in long term care, you have encountered this before. You may have told the person, “You live here at Sunny Acres now.” Or you may have tried redirecting the person by changing the topic and never answered the question. Do you like to be redirected and ignored when you ask a question? My guess is no. People with memory loss can feel ignored too. Either response you tried likely did not solve the problem, and now both you and the elder feel bad. So, what do you do?
Seniors living in long term care communities have been more isolated than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many people with advanced dementia are not safe behind closed doors. They are often dependent on trained caregivers to help them meet their basic daily needs; that is why they are living in long term care communities. Unfortunately, COVID-19 is hitting long-term care communities hard and they are attempting to stop the spread by keeping people in their rooms behind closed doors.
Elisabeth Rydland and Carolyn Magnussen are the first AMI Certified Practitioners in Montessori for Dementia and Ageing in Norway. They share a new, rewarding perspective, one that provides a deeper value to the Montessori philosophy and enhances quality of life for elders and people with dementia.
Seniors living in long term care communities have been more isolated than ever during this COVID-19 pandemic. It is especially confusing and isolating for people living with dementia. Many have been quarantined in their rooms for long periods of time and have little contact with others. Here are some unexpected but helpful tools to help meet their basic needs of companionship and communication.
Just as Montessori classroom teachers guide and support students instead of lecturing to them, Montessori staff guide and support elders instead of doing everything for them. Staff and elders work shoulder to shoulder as equally valued members of a shared community. Elders are invited to take on leadership roles in their areas of interest, such as leading a book discussion group or planning the menu for a holiday meal. Materials for these activities are neatly organized, labeled, and physically accessible all throughout the living area. Staff guide elders with these roles and activities until they build new routines, and their skills improve to the point that most are able to enjoy these activities on their own. In this post, we explore what Montessori roles and activities for elders look like.
Montessori philosophy, based on the principles of free choice and purposeful activity, has historically been focused on children’s education. However, its essential principles and practices are increasingly seen as critical to enhancing the lives of the older adults in our care. Central to both the Montessori philosophy and person-centered care are the core values of respect for the individual, the importance of knowing the person deeply, seeking and honoring the elder’s preferences over all aspects of his or her daily life, and creating a supportive environment that allows for continued participation in familiar and preferred activities, inside and outside.