Health Alert: Montessori method

NATIONAL - A century ago, Maria Montessori began an alternative way to educate children. Today, the Montessori Method is still going strong in schools across the country.

And it's not just for kids anymore.

85-year-old Millie Miller has the early signs of dementia, but she's not letting her memory slip away without a fight.

Twice a week she plays Bingo, one of her favorite pastimes.

"I hate when I win too often," she says, "but I always give it away."

The game is part of an innovative program to enrich the lives of patients with memory loss.

Donna Miller says, "Many of activities in the traditional facility take people, put them in a large group and kind of entertain them. But this is really to engage the focus of the person again and involve them in things that they previously enjoyed that were important to them."

The program is based on the Montessori Method for school children. Activities are hands-on and individually-paced so there's less room for frustration and failure.

Lots of positive reinforcement along the way helps validate self-worth.

Dr. John Trojanowski says, "It's so important to not lose sight of the human aspect of every individual no matter how far debilitated they may be because of the disease."

Dr. Miller has witnessed the positive effects of the program.

Donna Miller says, "People are more engaged, they are less agitated with the staff and with others. Sleep patterns seem to be better. You can see that in people's faces. And it's just such a positive spin off."

More than five million Americans live with Alzheimer's disease.

Posted by Bryce Mursch