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The Benefits of the Montessori Method for Younger Onset Dementia

5 August, 2022

Find out how to use the Montessori Method to support independence, maintain social connections and sustain general well-being for individuals with younger onset dementia.

What is Younger Onset Dementia?

One of the most misunderstood conditions facing our country, dementia isn’t just a disease for older people. Estimates suggest as many as 25,000 Australians are living with younger onset dementia.

A dementia diagnosis at any age can feel both frightening and overwhelming. 

However, younger onset dementia comes with a unique set of challenges, not least because the condition appears at a time when it is least expected.  

People within this age bracket (anywhere from 30 – 65) may be raising or supporting families and are usually engaged in meaningful employment.

At this stage in life, dementia can often go unnoticed or undiagnosed. Read more about the early signs of dementia here.

What is the Montessori Method of Dementia Care?

Rediscover the young person behind their dementia.

The Montessori Method is a person-centred approach, traditionally associated with child education and development. Montessori principles are easily applicable to dementia care, due to their focus on what an individual can do, rather than what they cannot.

The Montessori philosophy is based on their mission statement:

“Everything you do for me, you take away from me”.

We can’t yet cure the devastating effects of dementia. But, by using Montessori methods, we can assist people living with dementia to feel purpose, fulfilment and dignity again.

How to develop meaningful activities for people with younger onset dementia?

The goal of the Montessori Method is to allow people of all ages a chance at independence and success through meaningful activities.

The best way to determine which activities will be meaningful? Get to know the person behind the dementia.

Luckily, as a friend or family member, you probably already have that insight. 

If not, listen to their life stories and learn more about their interests. Then you can start putting ideas into practice at home. 

What activities would suit a person living with younger onset dementia?

There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ set of activities.

Every person is unique, and a dementia diagnosis doesn’t change that. 

What ‘meaningful’ or ‘purposeful’ might look like will be different for each individual.

Ask yourself - would my loved one enjoy this?

Ultimately, the person with dementia will decide what is meaningful to them – the Montessori Method encourages choice and as much independence as possible. Providing uninhibited access to various Montessori activities can enable individuals to choose something to do whenever they want.

Depending on interests and past experiences, individuals may find purpose in any of the following activities:

  • Arts and crafts (e.g. photo books)

  • Cooking

  • Music (listening, singing or dancing)

  • DIY projects

  • Gardening or housework

  • Care-based activities (pets, children, grandchildren)

  • Exercise

Engaging in regular activities can reduce feelings of restlessness, anxiety, depression, irritability and boredom.

 

Which Montessori activities can be set up at home? 

Whatever your loved one finds meaning in, there are several things you can do to prime the home environment for success.

Provide opportunities for movement

Individuals, young and old, all benefit from fresh air and movement. A dementia diagnosis does not change this! Provide plenty of opportunities for walking and exercise.

Practice makes perfect

Consider providing activities and materials that are easily accessible and can be used over and over again. Doing something repeatedly allows a person to master skills and experience success.

Clear out the clutter

Order brings a sense of predictability, safety and security. A crowded or messy environment can be over-stimulating and make things hard to find. Make like Marie Kondo, and clean up your clutter. Try placing commonly used items in clearly visible, labelled locations. 

Why should someone with younger onset dementia remain living at home for as long as possible?

The process of moving house is stressful at the best of times. 

For someone with dementia, nothing is more disorientating than leaving behind everyone (and everything) you know and love.

Whether you’ve lived there for three years or thirty, a home is filled with memories. When taken out of familiar surroundings, people with dementia can experience a faster cognitive decline.

Implementing a few minor changes around the home can make a huge difference to the health, happiness and safety of a person with younger onset dementia. Help your loved one to stay independent in their own home for as long as possible. 

 

The Montessori Method & Focus Care

We share your goals.

Our Montessori experts have been guided in their approach by Anne Kelly, Director of Montessori Consulting. If you would like to learn more about how the Montessori Method for dementia could help you and your loved ones, get in touch today.

For a no-obligation, complimentary care consultation, contact us today using the form below or call us on 1800 362 871.


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