Doll therapy, Montessori, childish Apps on iPads and a whole range of other children’s activities that are encouraged for people with dementia seem to me to miss the point. Using activities that children engage in to ‘amuse’ us – and then call them meaningful activities – is something I tend to think is patronising and insulting.
Why not engage us with real activities, those we loved in our pre diagnosis lives. Child-appropriate activities are demeaning and infantilising. In my heart, I suspect the only reason Montessori has been found to be so useful, is people with dementia are for the most part still not being treated with the respect and individualised care they deserve, and in reality there is very little person centred care in action in their care. I still see good care as the exception, not the norm.
A couple of years ago I was asked to be a research participant in a research project at Flinders University involving iPads and apps. It was targeted towards people in the early stages of dementia, at any age. It involved 30 minutes per day of using the 8 apps, and they were so juvenile my then 18 month year old great nephew could do them. Feeding a giraffe on an app is not meaningful activity, especially so when it makes a cartoon noise when it gets fed. I constantly wonder, what is wrong with people thinking children’s that activities are appropriate for adults…
Perhaps when I spend more time researching things like doll therapy and Montessori in dementia care, I might become more excited about them… I hope so.
One of my blog readers has sent me some papers she has done on doll therapy and which she is in favour of, which I’ve not had time to read yet (I promise I will Leah)… but in my heart, I still think it is generally undignified to introduce children’s activities to adults, unless it is part of some intergenerational work where you have children engaging with adults with dementia in some way.
Ps. I’ve just had a quick read on doll therapy, and have read that perhaps in the late stage of the disease it might be very appropriate, but for some reason the thought of it still offends me.