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.
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.