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Montessori, Dementia & ECAT

UPDATE 30/07/2013: Have been informed of additional information you may like to check out alongside this post

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Montessori-Based-Activities-Persons-Dementia-Cameron/dp/0967634318b – this book looks fantastic, will definitely be purchasing.

https://twitter.com/JLesbirel/status/360455374282825729/photo/1 – an image of Tom Kitwoods care model. The person (caree) should always be the central factor

Massive thanks to the contributors 🙂

I hope this post doesn’t make anyone feel like I’m being demeaning, but I have wanted to write it for a while, and I know others have covered it.

I used to work in nurseries with children, and despite them not specifically being Montessori nurseries, of course we used some of her techniques. And I have realised I use this experience with nan. And more recently ECAT (Every Child A Talker). I think it’s important to try and encourage and stimulate the use of verbal communication in the hopes of delaying the day when it is forgotten.

I understand some of you will know exactly what the Montessori techniques are, and the outlines of ECAT but for those who don’t I’ll outline the basics.

Montessori believed in Independence, Freedom and Respect, which I think is certainly something we are all trying to promote for our carees. And these can be achieved at home, through:

  • Choice of activity through options
  • Uninterrupted work time (I will explain how I interpret this in a sec)
  • Learn from doing NOT listening

Firstly it is important to promote choice with your caree, to re-instate the validity of their decisions. But remember to keep it simple and limit to maybe 2 choices so as to not overwhelm them.
Secondly, I take uninterrupted work time, to not necessarily mean learning or working, but anything your caree is doing. Help keep them focussed by only doing the thing they are doing. If you want to chat, turn the telly off etc.
Thirdly, don’t talk at them and tell them how to do things. Show them and do it with them. Generally speaking people learn better from practical activities rather than lectures. And a person with dementia won’t be hearing your lecture, they’ll most likely hear “bzzz bzzz mumble mumble blah blah”.

Montessori also believed in having an environment that reflected the needs of children. Or in our case our carees. (I dislike comparing my nan to a child, but the dementia behaviours are the ones I’m tackling here. The dementia is the child, so to speak). The environment should be:

  • Constructed in a way that is in proportion to their needs e.g. nan cannot get upstairs, so we constructed her a bedroom downstairs
  • Be clean and attractive. There is no point expecting your loved one to join you in the kitchen to help prepare dinner if it is a mess and there is clutter everywhere. Eliminate visual noise.
  • Make sure things are in order. Nan loves tea, so the tea cup next to the container with teabags next to the milk jug next to the kettle.
  • Have an environment that won’t hinder movement. Exercise of any form is vital to keep your loved one mobile and will help build muscle and stimulate the brain.
  • Once again, whatever activity you are doing, only have those materials out. It helps lower confusion.

ECAT can be simplified into these simple steps, and hopefully by following these you can stimulate your loved ones conversation skills and prolong verbal communication.

  • Talk TO them NOT at them. Give them a chance to respond, no matter how slow they take. Watch them for signs they have understood what you have said before you carry on waffling.
  • Spend time each day dedicated to just conversation. Turn the telly off, remove any distractions and chat for however long your loved one stays connected for. Nan can talk for hours some days and barely 5 minutes the next.
  • Repeat words or sounds your caree makes to confirm meaning.
  • Share a book/newspaper/magazine/poem/song every day and get them to join in, offer opinions so help stimulate the vocal chords, as well as the brain. Nan loves talking about the news, it’s our daily moaning time.

If you can think of any other educational techniques that could be used please do let me know. Thankyou once again to all who have read/shared/contributed to this blog.

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