Uniques settings produce unique results.
The only Motessori High School in Omaha, Nebraska, takes their classroom offsite one day a week to one of the dementia long term care facilities in the city. On these days, students bring out shelves and carts of several materials, many of them Montessori materials. Through tactile experiences that have long been familiar to Montessori students, families, and teachers, dementia patients are able to connect with beautiful materials.
- Knobbed cylinders that vary in width, depth, and diameter allow patients to work with self correcting tasks made from high quality wooden materials. For a patient who has long worked with carpentry or other fine crafted materials, these wooden cylinders are a comfort to hold and an achievable mental challenge to complete.
- Fabrics of different textures and colors provide a sorting activity that can vary every time or comfortably remain the same. For patients who have spent a life sewing or quilting fabrics, these sorting activities involve a familiar reminder of a task that was often an everyday part of a previous life.
- Scooping and tonging activities allow any size objects to be moved from one container to another with familiar tools. Since all patients have worked with these tools their entire lives, the comfort of continuously exercising the pincer grasp is easy to encourage.
- High quality musical instruments provide an auditory comfort level to patients who have long understood the comforts and predictability of tone. With the use of a pentatonic thumb piano or an eight note diatonic glockenspiel, these musical memory care activities for seniors provide auditory pleasures which often trigger vivid and specific memories.
Memory care activities for seniors come in a wide range of options, but these Montessori students and educators have found that high quality, familiar, and predictable materials bring instant gratification and immediate appeal. With the added bonus of intergenerational experiences for everyone involved, the project has become a favorite part of the school week for the last four years.
Alzheimer’s Care Is a Growing Need in Our Society
The following statistics indicate that the creation and implementation of memory care activities for seniors must become a priority:
- Alzheimers is the one and only top ten causes of death that can not be cured, slowed or prevented.
- 33% of seniors die with Alzheimers or another form of dementia.
- 33% of Alzheimers patients are female.
- Alzheimers is the sixth leading cause of death in America.
Early detection of dementia can help families prepare for the eventual long term care for alzheimers patients that their loved ones will need. In addition, early detection has been shown to slow the process in some types of dementia.
In spite of early detection, however, many families eventually need long term care options for their loved ones as they move into the later stages of Alzheimers and other memory care conditions. Memory care facilities provide specific spaces and activities to help these patients and their families.
Predictable surroundings are a key to most memory care facilities. In fact, much research indicates that key finding was environmental factors can be equally as important as behavioral approaches and therapy, as well as medication. Consistent seating at meals, for example, can make eating times more pleasurable and relaxing. Assigning sitting with the same people is another predictable way that memory care facilities can use predictable surroundings to benefit residents.
Another environmental feature that is a part of many memory care locations is a garden. Whether the growing space is located indoor so that it can be visited year round or if it is an outdoor setting, these locations are another place that provide peace and comfort for many residents. Residents can help tend gardens or simply enjoy the familiar surroundings. Connected to memory care buildings in a way that allow residents to move in and out of these locations, gardens provide a living space that can predictably show the progression of planting, growing, and harvesting seasons.
Memory Care Activities for Seniors Continue to Expand and Improve
Intergenerational opportunities may be one of the newer approaches to memory care settings, but it is not surprising that these uniques arrangements work. The opportunity to connect with younger people, as well as familiar environments like gardens and comfortable eating settings, help memory care patients find peace and comfort.