Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Our First Montessori Based Activities for Dementia

Over the past few weeks, we have tried a few Montessori based activities with Mom. We are learning what will work for her as we go along. It has been really interesting to try different things that you think will work and are accessible for your loved one and find out there may be more limitations for them than you realized. It all depends on what kind of dementia and other issues your loved one has as to what will work for them.

Mom has Lewy Body Dementia which means she has Parkinson's-like symptoms so her hands shake and movement is hard for her. In the two activities we tried, it was hard for Mom to do the motor skills to complete the projects, but our son was good at helping her out. We did both of these projects with me and our eight year old son assisting Mom.

Our first project was to make templates for setting the table. Montessori uses templates in many different ways in the classroom. For instance, the world map puzzles have templates (control maps) in varying degrees of detail (labeled and unlabeled) in order to help the children learn where the states and countries are and start to memorize the maps. We made place setting templates with Mom because Mom likes to set the table but does not remember where the items go.
Placemat Template. Photo by Jeff Norris

Part of Dr. Cameron Camp's suggestions for Montessori Based Dementia Care is to have your loved one help you make materials for activities as much as possible. So with the place setting templates, making the templates was an activity and now she has the activity of setting the table each day if she wants. Mom had a hard time following directions with this one as she needed to trace things, like a plate, with a marker. Those directions were a bit to complicated for her but working together we got the project done and she said she liked it. Mom is able to use the templates to set the table although she does sometimes question if she should be using them because she does not always remember we made them with her for her; she thinks they belong to us instead.

Our second activity was pouring sand. I always loved to do this when I was little, and now there are many more jars and things to pour colored sand into which can actually make pretty decorations in your home. We put each color of sand into a cup and used a funnel for Mom to pour the sand into the glass block display. We did find that Mom can not lift the cup high enough on her own, her arms are too weak, so we needed to help her a lot with that. While she enjoyed the project, I am not sure it is really that accessible for her.
Sand pouring. Photo by Jeff Norris

The Montessori method of simplifying and finding activities that match the skills of the person is working, it just takes a while to find out what is realistic for your loved one to do. Also, to make enough projects to have something to do multiples times a day would take a long time in a home setting and some of the activities are not reusable. I am working on a scrapbooking activity, which would be ongoing and anyone who comes over can do with Mom. I am really excited about it so as soon as I get that done I will post it.


Rev. Katie

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