What Is Montessori Programming for Seniors?

Nov 28, 2023

Are you ready to unlock the secrets of lifelong learning?

Discover the power of Montessori programming for seniors.

The Montessori Method of Education

Developed by Maria Montessori in the early 20th century, this approach holds that young children learn best when they direct their own learning, with teachers providing tools that engage all their senses. Maria Montessori determined that by focusing on the individual’s strengths and providing a hands-on environment that engages the five senses, children were able to absorb the knowledge of their classroom and thrive in their environments.

Explaining the Montessori Philosophy for Seniors

The Montessori-Inspired Lifestyle™ was adapted from the teaching principles and philosophy of Maria Montessori. It was created by Dr. Cameron Camp, Director of Research and Development at the Center for Applied Research in Dementia. He recognized that the use of Maria Montessori’s approaches and philosophy could be highly effective in enhancing the quality of life for those with cognitive impairment. The goal of the Montessori Method for seniors is to create persons who are as independent as possible, able to make choices, and treated with respect and dignity. It encourages seniors to take control of their lives, make choices, and engage in meaningful activities. With hands-on activities and community connections, Montessori for seniors encourages mental and physical stimulation.

Explaining Montessori for Dementia Patients

Montessori-Based Dementia Programming (MBDP) enables older adults to interact positively with their environment and function at the highest level possible. The activities are meaningful to residents and provide social roles. The entire program is based upon the strengths and interests of the residents residing in the community itself. In Montessori Senior Living Communities, residents are encouraged to take on individual roles that connect with their identities and promote independence. When residents are engaged in purposeful activities that fit their abilities, improved outcomes in mood and behavior expressions are observed.

The Montessori Senior Living Key Elements

Below are the essential elements of a Montessori community for those with dementia and seniors:

    Prepared Environment

    In a Montessori-inspired setting, there’s effective signage and environmental cues to help a resident function independently. As you walk through this type of setting, you will see multiple visual aids, or “cognitive ramps” that help a resident find specific locations and tasks. In addition, stations with hands-on activities and materials are available 24/7, allowing your loved one to feel a sense of purpose and belonging. Whether it’s jigsaw puzzles, gardening, folding, or simply enjoying a book, every resident has the freedom to choose what sparks joy and fulfillment for them.

    Hands-On Activity

    In a Montessori community, your loved one is actively involved in various activities that not only stimulate their senses but also strengthen their motor skills. From specially designed materials to everyday household items, these activities have multiple purposes. They help maintain hand-eye coordination, develop sustained attention, and provide sensory stimulation, among many others. It is common in a Montessori-Inspired Community to see a resident sweeping the floor after meals, or setting the tables, or setting up table games, or taking care of the aviary. Long viewed as “staff jobs”, these activities promote motor movement and connect the individual with their past strengths. They also connect the resident with the community-at-large and give them purpose in the day. Older adults and people with dementia have the same needs as everyone else—to feel valued and respected. Although there’s no cure for dementia, socialization and engagement in purposeful activities can significantly improve symptoms.

    Intrinsic Motivation

    Instead of just keeping seniors “busy,” Montessori prepared environments emphasize choice, independence, and meaningful engagement. By allowing individuals to follow their interests and meet their own needs, Montessori-inspired assisted living communities create a space where they can feel fulfilled and empowered rather than bored or restricted.

    Staff Education

    Staff in Montessori-Inspired Communities are provided with continuous educational programs that focus on empowering residents and encouraging meaningful engagement.


    Independence is also a focus in Montessori communities. Instead of doing tasks for them, caregivers encourage and invite your loved one to participate in daily activities. This not only preserves their sense of self-worth, but also taps into their natural drive for independence. Resident choice is fostered in all areas of a resident’s daily life; having control over activities, meals, committees, and community involvement fosters a sense of control and engagement.

    Community Engagement

    Unlike traditional care settings where staff often take over leadership roles, Montessori senior care communities empower elders to utilize their own leadership skills in areas of strength and interest. The Montessori philosophy recognizes that all individuals have unique talents and qualities that can be harnessed to enhance the well-being of the entire community. Through resident-directed committees and decisions, residents are encouraged to participate in the community-at-large via church organizations, schools, day cares, and charitable organizations. By focusing on these strengths, the Montessori approach creates an environment that fosters personal growth, connection, and joy for senior loved ones and those with dementia. In a Montessori community, individuals still have the opportunity to learn new things, maintain relationships with friends and family, and contribute to the community.

    Grace and Courtesy

    With Montessori programming for seniors, individuals have the opportunity to continue practicing social skills through social roles and responsibilities, such as greetings and helping others. Staff members play a vital role in modeling grace and courtesy and aiding those who need it. In this special care community, your loved one isn’t just a recipient of care, but active participants in creating a welcoming and inclusive atmosphere. They can invite friends to join them for activities, help with caring for the community, and even welcome guests.

    At Fairmont, we provide a Montessori-inspired lifestyle for our residents, allowing them to make daily decisions regarding activities and meals.

    Key Takeaways

    Discover the power of meaningful engagement at Fairmont on Clayton. We believe that it’s never too late to make daily decisions that bring joy and purpose to your life. We believe in focusing on a person’s abilities and strengths, not their deficits. We believe there is a dynamic interaction between the senior, the Montessori-trained care partner, and the prepared environment. That’s why we offer a Montessori-Inspired Lifestyle for our residents. From choosing their favorite activities to deciding what committee they want to join, we empower our residents to live life on their terms. Contact us today to schedule a tour.