Why is Montessori Successful with People with Dementia?

“The essence of independence is to be able to do something for one’s self.”

People with dementia are often confronted with what they are no longer able to do or understand. In turn, the Montessori principles are designed to focus on what they are still capable of doing. This person-centered way to approach dementia focuses on the person's capabilities, grabbing their interest, and showing them respect. All Montessori principles have been designed to work with a certain type of memory (implicit or procedural), that is less affected by dementia. Implementing the practices of Montessori with older adults with dementia has also been shown to increase engagement in activities and positive moods.

We know that people with dementia need structure and order in their environment and activities, and often become upset when changes are made to their surroundings. The Montessori principles supports this desire of structure in that the materials are taken from the everyday environment and each lesson/ task is taught at its simplest level. Additionally, using the Montessori approach with people with dementia has been useful in assessing their cognitive, motor, and sensory functioning as well as social skills.

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