It is in the afternoon and a large crowd has gathered in the sun room of The Cohen Home. The laughter and cheering can be heard down the hall as caregivers Regina Usher and Olive Rambaldi lead a game of Shape Bingo. It’s a skill they learned at a continuing education workshop sponsored by the Georgia Association of Homes and Services for the Aging.
“So often, caregivers feel as if they are limited to providing only the basic level of care, making sure everyone is clean, dressed, and fed,” says Janet Sugarman, Executive Director. “Continuing education empowers our staff to take the lead in creating meaningful experiences for our residents.”
Three caregivers and two administrative staff attended a recent day long conference, titled A Montessori Approach To Caregiving. The Montessori method has proven very successful for children with learning disabilities. The approach looks at the person as he/she is now, respecting the individual and emphasizing social
interaction in a supportive, nurturing environment. Today, researchers in the field of aging have discovered that many of the principles of the Montessori method are relevant to the challenges associated with caring for older adults with dementia. When applied in this way, the Montessori method focuses on what a person is still able to do, rather than the abilities that he or she has lost.
“The purpose of assisted living is to enable the resident to participate in as much of his or her care as possible”, says Janet Sugarman. “By applying the Montessori principles to our daily routines, our staff can come up with creative solutions to meet the needs of our residents.”
Back in the sun room, the game has ended and The Cohen Home residents are having afternoon tea. The caregivers are showing other staff members how to facilitate Shape Bingo and introducing another activity to share with the residents, carrying out the Montessori principle of exchanging information with others. “By teaching each other about what we know, we can help each other”, says caregiver Olive Rambaldi. “We can use what we learn to make our residents feel good about themselves. It really does make a difference.”
As a Beneficiary Agency of the JFGA, The Cohen Home received an allocation of $96,704 for FY-05.