Montessori Principles to Overcome Communication Difficulties

Montessori principles to overcome communication difficulties between you and the person with cognitive impairment.



How Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia affect communication:

  • Problems paying attention during long conversations.
  • Repeated use of common words.
  • Difficulty calling an object or person by name.
  • Difficulty registering and reusing information in one’s daily life.
  • Easy loss of the train of thought.
  • Difficulty organizing words in a sentence.
  • Problems with abstract concepts (an example, budgeting, planning your day).

Having difficulty communicating with a person with Alzheimer’s disease?

  • Sometimes, when a person with dementia has communication problems, observation can tell you more than a direct conversation with them in their environment.
  • What are people doing or trying to do?
  • How exactly do people do it?
  • How do people describe what is happening? (Word choices, adequate nonverbal communication, metaphors, etc.)
  • How do people understand what is going on?
  • What assumptions are made on your part and the person affected?
  • What do I see happening (his reactions, his body expressions)?


Effective Montessori communication strategies for caregivers:

  • Limit distractions for both of you – turn off the TV and radio, get away from background noise.
  • Use short precise sentences.
  • Limit yourself to one topic at a time.
  • Put yourself at her level, in front of her, look at her when you talk to her.

During the communication:

  1. Use closed questions (especially when dementia is more advanced) like: Did you have a good day?and not What have you done today? Do not put the person you are speaking with in a situation of failure.
  2. Use gestures, touch, movement, sounds.
  3. Speak directly to the person.
  4. Be patient and invite the person to take their time.
  5. Use humor.
  6. Use nonverbal communication – depending on the stage of the disease. (
  7. In case of confused communication, do not correct the person, use the diversion.
  8. Use your first or last name to address the person, for example: Hello mom, it’s Marc, your son! and not: Hello, it’s me!
  9. Defuse difficult situations (reactive behaviors) by smiling, breathing deeply, taking the person’s hand, leaving the room.

 Promote meaningful activities of daily living that generate greater

autonomy, a better relationship and the development of preserved abilities.


Interested in discovering other effective Montessori strategies to enrich your relationship and communication?

Contact Mark Norris: 418 337 8092 or [email protected]