Meaningful, familiar and ability-matching activities for those with dementia is the goal of the Montessori method of dementia care. Long-term memories can be unlocked through engaging in familiar tasks.
Using this as a form of activity in a care setting involves providing easy tasks broken down into simple steps that can spark interest and have successful outcomes. Matching and folding a basket of brightly colored socks is a good example. Their textures and colors engage the senses, while finishing the task unassisted provides a sense of accomplishment. Memories of caring for a home and a sense of independence can resurface.
Facility design is key to the success of this method: Setting up simple activities in inviting ways draws the individual in without forcing him or her to participate can evoke feelings of empowerment. This is different than a regularly scheduled activity program as tasks are done at the individual’s leisure. Garden stations, writing cards and basic cooking projects all have the potential to unlock memories and positive emotions. This method has been shown to reduce anxiety and provide comfort to kūpuna, bringing joy and meaning to a day.