New approach for Alzheimer’s

A nursing home is training all its staff in Montessori methods which aim to help dementia sufferers without drugs

12 March 2012

A NURSING home in the Paris suburbs is is successfully applying Montessori methods in helping those suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease.

Le Manoir, in Montgeron, south-east of the capital, has been using the methods for several weeks and is one of a handful to do so in France. It plans to have all of its 60 staff trained in them by the end of the month by Shirley Trouville, a nurse from AG&D, a company specialised in caring for people suffering mental problems without the use of drugs.

Ms Trouville said the key to the method is for “everyone to be involved”. She added: “Maria Montessori was an Italian psychiatrist who put in place teaching methods for children with difficulties, based on observing their capacities. The great American neurologist Cameron Camp has adapted it for people suffering from cognitive problems. Applied with success for 15 years in the USA, it enables Alzheimer’s sufferers to relearn certain everyday gestures.”

The focus is on understanding the individual. For example, staff will try to help an ex-chef by asking him to help with preparing meals - even if it is just putting bread slices in baskets.

It is also important to encourage the resident to do as much as possible for themselves, Ms Trouville said. “In helping them, we often do things for them, which makes them feel a failure and which can result in aggressive behaviour which is just caused by frustation.”

Director of Le Manoir Richard Vaumont said an example of success so far was a technician who asked an Alzheimer’s sufferer to help him with changing a lightbulb, and so “gained the attention of a very complicated resident, who often used to react aggressively”.

Another staff member said he had helped a woman who often mentioned Normandy. “We discovered shared origins in that region and since then I mention its towns to her and I see her eyes light up; we have a chat.”

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