Australian of the Year and Alzheimer’s Australia National President Ita Buttrose and American dementia expert Dr Cameron Camp have today launched Relate, Motivate, Appreciate, a set of new resources that will help family carers of people with dementia to maintain better relationships with their loved ones.
The new resources are based on principles developed by pioneering Italian educator Maria Montessori in the early 1900s. They recognise people with dementia as people, and focus on enhancing their relationships by tailoring interactions to a person’s individual interests and abilities.
“One of the hardest things that many carers of people with dementia have to face is visiting their loved one in a nursing home and not knowing how to interact or maintain a meaningful connection,” Ms Buttrose said.
“The purpose of these resources is to help carers learn new ways of interacting with their loved ones through activities that rely less on language and more on what their loved one still knows and enjoys. For example: arranging flowers with a relative who was a keen gardener, or spending time together listening to a person’s favourite music from their earlier years.”
There are 353,800 Australians living with dementia today. This number is projected to increase to almost 900,000 by mid-century. More than half of the 200,000 Australians who live in residential aged care facilities have a diagnosis of dementia.
“These resources and the Montessori principles on which they are based are central to Alzheimer’s Australia’s philosophy in respecting and appreciating the uniqueness and individuality of every person with dementia, no matter how much care and support they might need,” Ms Buttrose said.
Relate, Motivate, Appreciate was developed by Alzheimer’s Australia in partnership with Dr Camp and researchers from Monash University as part of Alzheimer’s Australia’s National Quality Dementia Care Initiative, which is supported by the J.O. & J.R. Wicking Trust and Bupa Care Services.
Dr Cameron Camp is Director of Research at the Centre for Applied Research in Dementia in Ohio, USA, and will be in Australia until mid-September conducting workshops and training seminars on Montessori approaches to dementia care.
Dr Camp says the benefits of the Montessori approach can be significant for both family carers and people with dementia.
“The Montessori approach to dementia care is a game changer,” he said.
National Dementia Helpline: 1800 100 500 (The National Dementia Helpline is an Australian Government Initiative)
Dementia is a National Health Priority Area