July 3, 2018   |    Blog, Health and Aging, Long-Term Care, Memory Support

Montessori Program Engaging Residents at Grace Rehabilitation and Health Center

Sunset Auxiliary Gives Montessori Carts to Grace Neighborhoods


Montessori programs are an educational approach developed more than a century ago with children in mind. The Montessori Method views the child as one who is naturally eager for knowledge and capable of initiating learning in any supportive, thoughtfully prepared learning environment. It attempts to develop children physically, socially, emotionally and cognitively through working with materials, rather than by direct instruction. Gerontologist Cameron Camp discovered that similar techniques were beneficial to adults who have Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Since then, it has started to be widely used in the field of life enrichment for older adults.

After the completion of Wesbury’s first Senior Scholars program last year, Melissa Swartwood, Grace Rehabilitation and Health Center Director of Life Enrichment and Volunteer Services, noted that the Senior Scholars program was geared to the more high functioning residents at Grace. Melissa felt that having access to a Montessori cart would allow for participation by residents experiencing different levels of cognitive decline.

The Wesbury Life Enrichment Department put together a completed Montessori Cart, and it rotated weekly on each neighborhood at Grace Rehabilitation and Health Center. The mobile Montessori Cart is a useful tool to engage the senses of residents with varying levels of cognitive impairment. The carts contain items such as cylinder blocks, fur-real pets, matching and sorting activities, fiber optics, iPods, binomial cubes, geometric shapes, tactile/sensory items, magnets, busy boards, aromatherapy oils with diffusers, puzzles, recognition blocks, mosaic tiles, and pattern block mats.

The success of the Montessori Carts led to the reopening of a Montessori Room in the Park Circle neighborhood of the Larcom Memory Support Center. MSC Nursing and Life Enrichment staff worked together for the room’s new concept and design.

“These programs are all about providing sensory activities as a means to maximizing the opportunities our residents have for rediscovering and reconnecting to the world around them,” says Melissa.

The original cart was introduced to members of Wesbury’s Sunset Auxiliary who agreed to purchase three additional carts so each neighborhood would have its own unique cart. Residents of other neighborhoods helped to create matching activities and painted some of the sorting supplies for the carts.

Melissa adds, “Thanks to the Sunset Auxiliary, our residents are given a sense of accomplishment that improves their quality of life.”