The Bridge to Rediscovery is a program used at Sweetgrass Court, a memory care community located in Mount Pleasant, that puts a great deal of focus on the theories of Montessori education among its residents. Montessori is defined as a method of education focused on the individual who is naturally eager for knowledge and capable of initiating learning in a supportive, thoughtfully prepared environment. This education model seeks to develop the individual physically, socially, emotionally and cognitively.
It is only natural that this method of education, which has shown great success in children, would also be a model for success in older individuals, especially those dealing with memory loss and cognitive decline.
As soon as someone is diagnosed with dementia, the family can contact Sweetgrass Court for a tour and comprehensive BTR “life story” review. The life story will go over detailed questions about what the potential resident likes and how they do things, and then a customized plan of action based on BTR and its Montessori focus will be established.
One of the processes in the planning effort is getting the families involved. Tasha Williams, sales counselor with Sweetgrass Court, said, “We ask family members to bring a memory box of materials that reflect and represents their loved ones. We also ask that they place items in the memory box that were sentimental to the resident before their memory loss. This process allows family members to reconnect with their loved one who is struggling to remain in the present. It allows them to go back to the times they remember.”
The program builds on the strengths of the individual.
“If someone loved art, music or dancing, or was a lawyer, doctor or engineer, or enjoyed sports, gardening or cooking, we would provide the resident with the appropriate books and activities to encourage those interests,” Williams said.
“We believe in the BTR program and its Montessori style because it improves the quality of life as it provides purpose and joy to our residents. This unique program helps residents feel important, valued and understood. You get to capture what the resident still has to offer as they have so much to give,” Williams explained.
The meaningful hands-on activities help the resident learn and remain cognitively active and engaged. Designed for residents at different levels, the activities put them in control, giving them freedom to decide how they want to complete a task.
As for Williams and her team at Sweetgrass Court, the BTR program is something they enjoy participating in with the residents as well.
“We get to capture more smiles and hugs from our residents, and that is such a rewarding feeling,” she concluded.