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Photo Source: Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

Photo Source: Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

Last summer, after reading about Tom & Karen Brenner, I became interested in the use of Montessori principles with dementia patients.

The Brenners are Montessori gerontologists and authors of You Say Goodbye and We Say Hello: The Montessori Method for Positive Dementia Care, which explores this fascinating topic.

The concepts are actually rather simple, and many of these ideas could easily be incorporated into adult day programs and memory care activities. If you’re caring for a loved one at home, I recommend trying to incorporate Montessori into your daily routine. Reports indicate that patients involved in these activities experienced less agitation, wandered less, and displayed less aggressive behaviors. They also seemed much more engaged in the world around them – and what care partner doesn’t want THAT for their LO?!

Find the story and see the person: Who is that person today and how can we bring that person out? Memories aren’t all gone. Let’s find out what still exists and capitalize on it and enhance the quality of life.  ~Gail Elliot, retired McMaster University gerontologist


When considering activities, ask these questions:

  • What does he/she like to do?
  • What is he/she able to do?
  • What type of work did he/she do before dementia?
  • What hobbies did he/she enjoy before dementia?

Find things that:

  • DO encourage use of the five senses
  • DO compliment his/her pre-dementia interests, talents, and experiences
  • DO allow for successes
  • DO take into consideration his/her current stage of dementia

For more great tips and to read about how Montessori is being employed in Toronto, DO click through and read this excellent article by Tralee Pearce: Using the Montessori Method to Combat Dementia. Share it with the memory care and day program administrators who oversee your loved one’s care, and encourage them to adopt these concepts!

While finding a cure or treatment is critical, it’s also imperative that we provide those living with dementia with the best quality of life possible right now!