Although Montessori was originally for children of varying ages, the creative learning method has become a breakthrough approach in caring for seniors affected by dementia.
Scientists and health experts believe that the translation of Montessori can significantly benefit seniors in many ways, from reducing agitation and increasing social interaction to promoting independence and reconnecting seniors with their families.
Looking for more information on Montessori methods and activities to help your seniors with dementia feel calmer and recall memories better? All activities listed below are some examples of Montessori activities for dementia care that your parents can enjoy by themselves or with others.
Learn About The Benefits of Montessori for Seniors & 10 Best Montessori Activities for Dementia Care
What Is Montessori Education?
Montessori is a non-traditional learning method that centers around children, encouraging them to become independent and acquire real-life skills.
In contrast to traditional methods adopted in most kindergartens, a Montessori classroom is specially designated for children to involve themselves in various hands-on activities and collaborative play under the guidance of their teacher.
The method was founded and named after an Italian educator, Maria Montessori, who strongly believed that giving children the freedom to pursue and decide what to learn motivates their personal growth and social development.
How Does Montessori Benefit Seniors?
Following the integration in many memory care programs and centers, Montessori helps bridge seniors closer to their caregivers, family, friends, and surrounding community by stimulating their minds and strengthening their motor skills. Other benefits of Montessori include:
- Busting stress
- Reducing anxiety and depression
- Instilling a sense of empowerment
- Promoting independence
- Increasing a sense of accomplishment
- Unwinding all senses
- Increasing social cohesion
- Improving familial interaction
10 Best Montessori Activities for Dementia Care
Playing puzzles is a long-time favorite pastime activity for seniors. When caring for dementia patients, putting puzzles back together brings plenty of benefits. It is a mental distraction that helps seniors with dementia and memory calm their aggressive thoughts, fight off boredom, sharpen their minds, preserve their logical thinking, etc. From assembling jumbo-size puzzles to solving intricate pictures consisting of hundreds or thousands of pieces, putting puzzle pieces together is one of the best Montessori activities for seniors experiencing memory loss to foster more relaxation and enjoyment, hindering the progression of dementia over time.
Engage In Artistic Endeavors
Encouraging seniors to get their hands on brushes and color palettes is a creative way to enrich their lives and support them in coping with the adverse effects of dementia. When joining art projects or arts-based therapies, seniors get the chance to express themselves freely and tap into their hidden talents without fearing judgment. At the same time, playing with brush strokes and colors is a useful intervention for people dealing with dementia by improving orientation, resolving complex emotions, and slowing cognitive decline. Getting your seniors involved in art therapy is such a breeze. All you need is to grab some brushes, watercolors, soft-oil pastels, Crayola crayons, canvas, or regular papers; voila, your parents are ready to roll!
In Montessori practices, the concept of Math is introduced through visualization and physical shapes, making Math more fun and interactive than traditional learning. It involves using different counting tools, such as bead frames, division racks, and multiplication tables, to learn Math lessons and solve equations. However, be mindful that it can be too complicated for some seniors depending on their level of cognitive decline. Instead, you can keep it simple by using household items like socks, spoons, canned foods, or small bowls to help your parents practice counting and keep their minds engaged in solving problems when implementing Montessori’s principles.
Dig The Dirt with Mining Kits
Fossil excavation and gemstone mining kits are a fun way to support seniors dealing with dementia to restore their sense of muscle movements. Unlike conventional strenuous exercises, these little mining projects allow seniors to work up their muscles and revamp their motor skills right in the comfort of their houses. The kits are widely available in Walmart, Amazon, Target, or toy stores at reasonable prices. The best part about it is that you can buy different levels for your parents if they are up for a challenge or want to start a collection of gemstones.
As an essential part of life, music brings people who do not speak the same languages together. It is a wonderful outlet for everyone to have fun and manifest more enjoyment through the sound of music. Music has been demonstrated to have exceptional impacts on overall health in seniors, whether it means listening to their favorite tunes, singing, dancing, or playing musical instruments. Learning to play instruments helps seniors diagnosed with dementia and memory issues improve memory, develop cognitive functions, enhance hand-eye coordination, and promote spatial awareness. Guitar, ukulele, tambourines, and drums are some instruments that beginners can learn. Joining in drum circles is another fun musical activity to consider if you want to help your parents break out of their shells.
Get Creative in The Kitchen
Cooking new recipes or baking cupcakes or pies is an easy-to-modify activity supporting seniors in rediscovering their sensory engagement by utilizing kitchen appliances. It also costs nothing, and you get to prepare some of the most delicious lunches or dinners! Such an activity provides you and your parents with excellent opportunities to rekindle the relationship and talk about feelings and thoughts while creating a sense of accomplishment for your parents by assisting you in cooking something delicious. Keep in mind that you don’t have to cook anything too complicated. It can be snacks your parents enjoy munching on or simple-to-make dishes like salads, sandwiches, toast, baked fish, roasted veggies, etc.
Do House Chores
Seniors affected by dementia tend to isolate themselves because the family frequently overlooks their roles in the household. Increased loneliness can cause seniors to become distressed and agitated over time, increasing their health risks. Though it can be mundane at times, doing house chores is important for seniors to reconnect with their families, calm their busy minds, and feel more “wanted” while strengthening their motor skills. It also helps seniors reminisce about their past and recall fond memories. Get your parents started with simple tasks like folding laundry and towels, dusting off the furniture, putting groceries in the fridge, organizing utensils, cleaning the blinds, wiping the tables or windows, and so on.
Make Scented Candles
Nothing’s more enjoyable than picking your favorite scents and mixing all the ingredients to make your candles! Pouring candles is another creative activity to help seniors dealing with dementia re-engage their senses. Thus, they make adorable nightlights or pretty table centerpieces while exuding nose-pleasing scents throughout the house. Moreover, lavender, rosemary, or herbal-scented candles can help with calming the symptoms of dementia, boosting memory, and suppressing agitation. Help your parents source containers, wax, wicks, and essential oils. Be sure to keep a close eye on your parents when melting and pouring hot wax into the jars.
Consider Sensory Games
Sensory games or activities are another great way to stimulate the senses of seniors, keep their minds alert, and prevent the progression of dementia and Alzheimer’s. It focuses on improving seniors’ interaction with the world by boosting their five senses: hearing, smelling, touching, seeing, and tasting. These interactive activities help seniors reclaim their control over senses that tend to deteriorate over time, such as hearing and seeing, and achieve optimal function of other senses for healthier aging.
- To enhance touch, line up geometry shapes or random items and ask your parents to identify the items while blindfolded.
- To enhance smell, give your parents scented candles and ask them to describe the scents they smell.
- To enhance taste, prepare different foods or fruits and let your parents have a bite of each. Ask them to identify the fruit and describe the texture.
Play with Animals
Interacting with animals can be exceptionally beneficial for dementia care. Going to zoos, aquariums, or safaris, assembling and decorating birdhouses, making bird feeders, visiting pet coffee shops, walking the dog, and spending a day at a farm are some fun activities involving animals your parents can try themselves. Moreover, adopting a dog or cat for your parents is a good idea, especially if they live alone and need a companion.
If you have questions about Montessori activities for dementia care or any topics discussed here, connect with us and learn more.
At 12 Oaks, our team of caring professionals is dedicated to keeping residents safe, engaged, and connected to their families and friends while leading fulfilling lives. 12 Oaks Senior Living Communities are an ideal place to enjoy the encore season of life.
For questions or to schedule a personalized tour, don’t hesitate to contact us.
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