Morningside Assisted Living Uses Montessori Method to Trigger Long-Term Memories

Yesterday, November 14, 2010, the Newport News, VA Daily Press reported on the use of unique programming that helps dementia and Alzheimer’s disease residents at Morningside Assisted Living: Montessori-Based Dementia Programming (MBDP), which helps residents trigger long-term memories and incorporates sensory stimulation activities into daily programming. The facility has been using MBDP for the past three years in its “Bridge to Rediscovery” program. Matching socks is a soothing activity for memory-impaired residents

The Montessori Method was originally intended as a unique approach to teaching children, but adaptations have led to Montessori-Based Dementia Programming, which uses the same techniques to develop programming for memory-impaired adults that result in increased engagement and improved quality of life. The original Montessori Method was created by Maria Montessori, while MBDP was developed by Dr. Cameron Camp, Director and Senior Research Scientist at Myers Research Institute, who has researched the use of Montessori’s ideas in the dementia population for more than ten years.

Morningside’s “Bridge to Rediscovery” program incorporates cues into residents’ daily routines to guide them in activities of daily living. For instance, the radio plays the same tune each day at the same time as a cue for residents to head to the dining room. Shadowboxes are displayed outside each resident’s room to help them retain memories of the past, help cue them to the location of their room, and to aid staff in getting to know each resident better.

It’s not just staff that help with activities. Activity boxes are filled with fun, soothing, and memory-jogging activities that family members can use with loved ones, as well. One box is filled with mismatched socks that residents can sort through and pair up, which is a comforting and familiar activity for many. Another is filled with a variety of balls used in sports; family members or staff can ask a resident to identify the ball used for a certain sport. If the resident selects the wrong ball, they’re simply asked to name the sport the ball is used for. Another box is filled with a variety of spices, such as cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. Smelling the familiar scents can conjure up pleasant memories, which can be soothing for residents even if they can’t articulate the memory.

MBDP is designed to incorporate soothing and familiar activities without inducing stress. While residents may not always hold a complete conversation, performing familiar tasks can be comforting, and the activities presented help residents form a bond with staff and reconnect with loved ones.

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