Hillcrest Mable Rose Participates in Pioneering Eldercare Montessori Program

Students and Elders Learning Side-by-Side Help Engage Individuals with Dementia 

Bellevue, NE – Hillcrest Mable Rose has begun its third year partnering with the Montessori International School of the Plains (MISP) to offer Nebraska’s first all-day eldercare Montessori learning program of its kind. Each Friday, class is held at the assisted living and memory support community with 29 students in grades 7 through 12 learning alongside the elders who live there and the clients who attend The Club adult day services.

The program was featured in the Omaha World Herald on October 18 and can be viewed at the following link: http://www.omaha.com/article/20131018/LIVEWELL01/131018752/1685#omaha-students-testing-whether-montessori-methods-can-help-dementia-sufferers

Helen Crunk, administrator of Hillcrest Mable Rose, observes firsthand how the Montessori philosophy provides an environment of learning and discovery often self-guided by the students’ interests, and the residents participating in the program follow in the same manner, allowing them to connect socially and engage in purposeful activity.

“For the residents, they can experience a social environment that allows them to broaden their communication and improve their physical and cognitive well-being,” said Anna Fisher, Ph.D., Hillcrest’s director of education and president of the MISP School Board.

Dr. Fisher, a certified dementia practitioner, is inspired by the growth she’s seen not only in the development of the program but also in the improvements in the residents’ motivation and ability to communicate.

Alice Roberts, an MISP teacher and coordinator of the program, said the students also reap the rewards of the program and appreciate the relationships built in the unique classroom.

“It’s important to have other adults interested in their development and success, and I’ve seen them learn patience and compassion through their interaction with the elders,” Roberts said. “They learn from each other and both are able to build their confidence and independence through this experience.”

“The unique aspect of this program is how the Montessori Method and dementia are connected,” said Dr. Fisher. “Research has already shown the Montessori Method is successful in learning development for young people. This year, we will be conducting research on how it benefits those with dementia.”

Dr. Fisher and her research colleague, Dr. Cameron Camp, director of research and development for the Center for Applied Research in Dementia, will present their findings at the American Montessori Society Annual Conference in March 2014.  Dr. Camp is a noted psychologist specializing in applied research in gerontology and is the driving force behind the Montessori Method in dementia care.

Hillcrest Mable Rose has offered assisted living and memory support in a beautiful setting in Bellevue, Neb. for more than 15 years, and was voted among the Best of Omaha® 2013 in the category “Best Assisted Living Facility.”

Hillcrest Health Services offers the region’s largest continuum of health services for aging adults, including independent and assisted living, in-patient and outpatient rehabilitation, long-term care, memory support, adult day services, certified skilled home health and private duty home care, and hospice care. Hillcrest currently serves nearly 1,000 aging adults daily across eight counties in Nebraska and Iowa. For more information, visit www.hillcresthealth.com.