Tom and Karen Brenner Write 2nd Book: The Montessori Method for Connecting to People with Dementia

Tom and Karen Brenner Write 2nd Book: The Montessori Method for Connecting to People with Dementia
By Tom and Karen Brenner
We sometimes say that if we fell off the face of the earth tomorrow there are a couple of things we’ve accomplished that would make our lives memorable: Our children have grown up to be kind and caring people who are making real and lasting contributions to the larger world. Another accomplishment that means a great deal to us is that we’ve helped to change the conversation around dementia. We haven’t done this on our own, of course. Many people working in the dementia field have contributed to a more positive approach to this work. From the moment we started volunteering at a long-term care home over twenty years ago, we’ve often been surprised and inspired by the people living with dementia and their caregivers.


When we first began this work, it seemed that almost every article written, nearly every book published described dementia as “the walking dead” or “the long goodbye” or “a disease that robs people of their personhood.” The thinking about dementia was grim. Of course, dementia is a tough diagnosis for the person who has it and the people who love and care for that person. We understand that caring for someone with dementia is exhausting, frustrating, maddening, lonely and heartbreaking. But, over the years, working with people who live with dementia and their caregivers we’ve also learned that this condition can have moments of joy and laughter and deep connection. We believe that it is our mission to create opportunities for these moments of connection and joy.

In our second book on positive dementia care, The Montessori Method for Connecting to People with Dementia, we discuss our application of the Montessori Method and we also demonstrate how using the arts can be a very effective way to reach and connect to people with dementia. Each chapter is devoted to a particular art form; painting, singing, drum circles, writing stories from life, creating poetry, video diaries. People who have never played a drum in their lives or picked up a paint brush find that they can express themselves through these mediums and love doing so! There is a real, visible bond that develops when a group of people with dementia play together in a drum circle or they read aloud a story that one of the group has written or they sing in a choir together. Our new book chronicles many of the people we’ve worked with who have opened up and connected to their caregivers and the larger world through the arts in our Montessori program.

Seeing a dairy farmer paint his first picture or a woman who has lost the ability to speak sing out loudly in a choir, these are the moments we cherish. This is what brings us so much joy in the work we do. In our book, The Montessori Method for Connecting to People with Dementia we share the techniques and tools we have used to find engagement and joy with people who have dementia. We wrote this book to share practical, fun and useful ideas. It is our fervent prayer that in the pages of this book caregivers will find comfort, affirmation and hope.

About the Authors
Tom Brenner is a gerontologist who specializes in creating dementia care programs that are strength-based and positive leaning. His wife, Karen, is a Montessori educator who co-founded a Montessori school for children who are deaf. The Brenners have worked together for the past twenty years researching and implementing the application of the Montessori Method for positive dementia care.
After years of working directly with people living with dementia and their caregivers, the Brenners have published two books about their work. In addition to The Montessori Method for Connecting to People with Dementia , they are also authors of You Say Goodbye and We Say Hello: The Montessori Method for Positive Dementia Care.
Tom and Karen travel throughout the United States presenting workshops, training programs and speaking engagements about their uplifting and positive approach to dementia care.
Contact Tom & Karen:
Twitter: @BrennerPathways
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