Childhood education method helping dementia patients

Families of dementia patients are encouraged to take part in the Montessori approach (VMCH)

More commonly associated with early childhood education, the Montessori method is being used to support older Australians living with dementia. Source: Melbourne Catholic.

One Australian is diagnosed with dementia every six minutes. Villa Maria Catholic Homes has spent the past 12 months introducing the person-centred Montessori practice to support people living with dementia at its residential aged care communities across Victoria.

Reported outcomes have included significant drops in medication use, residents sleeping better, drops in aggression and reduction in falls.

While Montessori is traditionally associated with early childhood education, in aged care it aims to support individuals in a practical way. People are encouraged to be as independent as possible, to have a meaningful place in their aged care community, and make choices and useful contributions in their home.

VMCH staff have been trained in the principles of Montessori by Montessori Ageing Support Services managing director, Anne Kelly, who has introduced the practice to services across Australia.

Ms Kelly is also overseeing the implementation of the practice at VMCH’s 12 aged care communities.

“Creating a Montessori environment encourages people to continue to do as much as they can and have always done, with support if needed,” Ms Kelly said.

“What we have found is that people are more alert, that they’re awake, that they’re smiling more, that they’re happier.”

Montessori environments are rich in opportunities for individuals to do as much for themselves as they can. This can be as simple as making their own beds, dressing themselves and assisting in chores within the residence.

Aged care support staff also create opportunities for individuals to engage in activities that reflect their personal preferences through learning about each person’s history, their likes and dislikes, and what is important to them. Families are also encouraged to play a vital role.

“Families often are in a position where it’s difficult to visit. So, in that (Montessori) environment it changes the family visits from something that is often difficult where they don’t know what to say and what to do into something that is positive where families can feel that they are contributing to the wellbeing of that person in the longer term.”


Montessori changing the lives of a different generation (Melbourne Catholic

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