FENNVILLE, Mich. (WOOD) - What started as a method for teaching children to teach each other has been put to use to help local adults with dementia.
The Golden Orchards assisted living home in Fennville began implementing the Montessori method in January to help treat dementia patients. Thursday they hosted an open house to show their residents' progress.
In schools, Montessori is an approach to teaching that encourages a free-form style to learning in which older students help in teaching younger students, and the students themselves choosing what activities they want to do.
Dr. Cameron Camp, who was introduced to the Montessori method 15 years ago when his children started in a school that used the program, began developing uses for the dementia community.
"When people ask me what it is that I do, I say I enable persons with dementia to do what they're not supposed to be able to do," Dr. Camp told 24 Hour News 8 when he visited Golden Orchards. "We're not talking about a cure, that's a long way off. What we are talking about, however, is living, and trying to live well."
For adults living with dementia, these techniques can be used to help them try to regain lost motor skills, and give them a role to fill each day.
The staff at Golden Orchards said the focus on freedom during daily activities -- such as residents first setting up blocks then transitioning to story telling at their own will -- is helping them feel less agitated while increasing their motor skills.
In addition to their daily activities, residents also help set up meals for each other as a way of filling a specific role that they do each day.
Dr. Camp said this is part of how people with dementia can feel like they're contributing.
"It's about having a purpose-driven life," said Camp. "Especially to have a reason to wake up in the morning in spite of the fact you have a diagnosis."
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