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.
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.
Roles Help to Give our Lives Meaning A role is the purpose that someone has in a situation, organization, society, or relationship. Every day in our lives we play a variety of roles. We may be a mother, father, spouse, teacher, manager, child, neighbor, care partner, volunteer, etc. Each of the roles we play have…
Adapted from Getting Started with Montessori Volume 1 by Brush & Norris ((c) 2017 Brush Development Company) Dr. Montessori developed practical life activities to help children develop coordination, order, independence, and concentration. By developing those qualities, the child is able to get the most out of the learning experience. There are four main areas of practical…