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.
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.
Many of you have written to share your challenges and successes over the past few weeks and to ask for simple activity ideas that can be done easily in one’s bedroom on a tray table. Here is an idea for a simple activity that can help an individual to maintain fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination while feeling a sense of purpose by caring for his or her belongings.
Amaran Assisted Living and Memory Care Community in Albuquerque, New Mexico, will provide Albuquerque with an innovative approach to senior care. The community, currently under construction, is scheduled to open November 2020. The vision for Amaran is a holistic care center that will weave together the concepts of Montessori learning and respectful care for the aging.
Nonna’s Intergenerational Christian Montessori is located in Wayzata, Minnesota and is the first of its kind, implementing the philosophy of Maria Montessori for both children and elders. Opening their doors in February 2019, Nonna’s has just celebrated their first year of business.
It’s easy to get stuck in a rut when it comes to the materials we use for engaging elders. Most of us eagerly welcome new ideas for roles and activities. I’ve been known to come up with some pretty elaborate concepts to try and shake things up, but I have learned that keeping it simple usually works best.
One of my favorite materials are Three-Part Cards (also known as Nomenclature Cards). These cards can be used to help elders maintain and improve language skills such as reading and naming. In addition, the materials can address sequencing, attention to task, fine and gross motor skills, turn taking, conversation and reminiscence.
Culture change takes dedication, leadership, and a willingness to look at life differently. It means we have to try new things and be willing to be uncomfortable in order to grow. I love when I have the opportunity to show off a person-centered community that is putting the Montessori philosophy into action. Lutheran Senior Life, Passavant Community, has worked with me for the past year with one goal in mind: Use the Montessori philosophy to help their residents to live an abundant life.