The DementiAbility Methods
Our Vision

Our vision is to change the face of dementia.  This will be achieved through education, with a focus on helping professionals and family care partners to understand the connections between the brain, a person’s life story, the environment and behaviour. With an emphasis on enhancing abilities, professionals and other care partners will know how to set environments and individuals up for success, thereby helping each person to be the best he/she can be.  People will become more hopeful about what the future holds for each and every person living with dementia. Eventually, when DementiAbility becomes ingrained into the norms and “How to’s” of daily dementia care, people will ask, “Didn’t they always do it this way?”

Our Goal

DementiAbility’s goal is to expose the abilities – and the potential – of each person living with dementia. Through innovative evidence-based, person-centred education, resources, tips, tools and approaches to dementia care, professionals and other care partners will know how to support the whole person in a prepared environment that aims to set each person up for success thereby helping each person to live each day with meaning, purpose, high self-esteem, independence, love, a sense of belonging and joy.

Our Evidence

The DementiAbility Methods are grounded in multidisciplinary evidence and practice.  Learn more about the research behind these methods by clicking here.

Why do professionals need this education?

Professionals need multidisciplinary knowledge and practical tools to understand and address the needs of those in their care. When professionals understand the connections between the brain, life story, environment and behaviour, they are better equipped to do set individuals living with dementia up for success. Research has clearly demonstrated that when these methods are put into practice, staff have reconnected with their passion and found their jobs to be more rewarding. Moreover, respondents said they were energized by these new approaches and they now have more time to do things that make the biggest difference.

Why do care partners need this education?

Behavioural changes related to dementia are difficult to understand and address – especially for family and other care partners who take on the role of “caregiver”.  The days are often long and difficult – filled with unanswered questions.  DementiAbility’s caregiver education and newly released book – “Thinking Differently About Dementia: Tips and Tools for Care Partners” are aimed at answering your questions while also offering practical solutions and successful outcomes. We have been told, “Everyone needs this information – and education”.

Outcomes

-Reduction in responsive behaviours (BPSDs)

-Increased resident, staff and family satisfaction scores

-Improved resident function (e.g. – eating, dressing, toileting independently and finding things and places independently)

-Decreased UTIs (urinary tract infections), decreased incidents of delirium, decreased hospital visits

-Homes that look, feel, and smell like home – and set up for success to allow each individual to be the best he/she can be

-Individuals living with dementia are engaged with meaning and purpose and leisure and pleasure

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Our Team

Gail Elliot, BASc, MA

Gail Elliot, BASc, MA, Author, Gerontologist & Dementia Specialist, is the Founder and CEO of DementiAbility Enterprises Inc. She was the Assistant Director, Gilbrea Centre for Studies in Aging, at McMaster University for 17 years and took early retirement in March 2012 to focus on dementia education. Gail’s work is being used across Canada and has been implemented globally. DementiAbility Methods and Validation Communication workshops are two of the core courses in the McMaster University Geriatric Certificate Program. Gail works closely with the Occupational Therapists Association of Hong Kong, Montessori Aged Support Services In Australia and with colleagues in the United States.

Gail is the author of the book Montessori Methods for Dementia: Focusing on the Person in the Prepared Environment (currently available in English and Chinese), Memory Aids for Dementia, Helping Me – Helping You: A Resource for the Dementia Caregiver and is co-author of Checklist for Change: A Guide for Facilitating Culture Change in LTC. She is also editor, and author, of the many titles available as part of the Carry on Reading in Dementia series, author of the “Work It” series and creator of the iPad app “Best Guess”, a trivia game incorporates the DementiAbility principles into a game that has been set up for success.


Leigh Ann Ditchburn

Leigh Ann joined DementiAbility as the Executive Lead in August of 2012. Her responsibilities include administrative management, program planning, customer service, accounting, marketing, and business planning. Her many strengths come from the Business Management Fundamentals Certificate she received from the University of Toronto and her business experience at several large organizations, including Tim Hortons’ corporate office, the Region of Halton (Department of Finance), and Seaport Express Inc. Outside of work, Leigh Ann’s interests include exercising, running half marathons, bike riding and spending quality time with her family.


Laura Elliot, BA, MSc

Laura Elliot, BA, MSc, is a Gerontologist, Program Co-Ordinator and Educator with DementiAbility Enterprises Inc. She has worked with DementiAbility since 2016. She graduated from Queens University with her undergraduate degree with a focus on Drama and Psychology. 

She received her Masters of Gerontology from the University of Stirling in April, 2020. She has helped create many resources for DementiAbility such as “Look at This and Reminisce”, multiple “Carry on Reading Series” titles and co-created and edited many other resources. She has taught all over the country and helped implement DementiAbility in many organizations with multiple individuals and have helped them to acheive DementiAbility Certified status. She hopes to continue creating change in the world of dementia care through education and resources. 

She dedicates her practice to her beautiful grandmother Peggy who was on her dementia journey for 7 years. 

Gone, but never forgotten.


Our teachers

Select a teacher to read their biography.

Gail Elliot, BASc, MA

Gail Elliot, BASc, MA, Author, Gerontologist & Dementia Specialist, is the Founder and CEO of DementiAbility Enterprises Inc. She was the Assistant Director, Gilbrea Centre for Studies in Aging, at McMaster University for 17 years and took early retirement in March 2012 to focus on dementia education. Gail’s work is being used across Canada and has been implemented globally. DementiAbility Methods and Validation Communication workshops are two of the core courses in the McMaster University Geriatric Certificate Program. Gail works closely with the Occupational Therapists Association of Hong Kong, Montessori Aged Support Services In Australia and with colleagues in the United States.

Gail is the author of the book Montessori Methods for Dementia: Focusing on the Person in the Prepared Environment (currently available in English and Chinese), Memory Aids for Dementia, Helping Me – Helping You: A Resource for the Dementia Caregiver and is co-author of Checklist for Change: A Guide for Facilitating Culture Change in LTC. She is also editor, and author, of the many titles available as part of the Carry on Reading in Dementia series, author of the “Work It” series and creator of the iPad app “Best Guess”, a trivia game incorporates the DementiAbility principles into a game that has been set up for success.

Laura Elliot BA, MSc

Laura Elliot BA, MSc, is a Gerontologist, Program Co-Ordinator and Educator with DementiAbility Enterprises Inc. She has worked with DementiAbility since 2016. She graduated from Queens University with her undergraduate degree with a focus on Drama and Psychology. She received her Master of Gerontology from the University of Stirling in April, 2020. She has helped create many resources for DementiAbility such as “Look at This and Reminisce”, multiple “Carry on Reading Series” titles and co-created and edited many other resources. She has taught all over the country and helped implement DementiAbility in many organizations with multiple individuals and have helped them to acheive DementiAbility Certified status. She hopes to continue creating change in the world of dementia care through education and resources. She dedicates her practice to her beautiful grandmother Peggy who was on her dementia journey for 7 years. Gone, but never forgotten.
Gail is the author of the book Montessori Methods for Dementia: Focusing on the Person in the Prepared Environment (currently available in English and Chinese), Memory Aids for Dementia, Helping Me – Helping You: A Resource for the Dementia Caregiver and is co-author of Checklist for Change: A Guide for Facilitating Culture Change in LTC. She is also editor, and author, of the many titles available as part of the Carry on Reading in Dementia series, author of the “Work It” series and creator of the iPad app “Best Guess”, a trivia game incorporates the DementiAbility principles into a game that has been set up for success.

Marge Dempsey, RN, BA (Honours)

Marge Dempsey, RN, BA (Honours) – Marge is a registered nurse with a degree in neuropsychology. She spent 21 years developing and directing the clinical programs for the Alzheimer Society of Niagara Region including 3 years as their CEO. Marge has had the unique opportunity to combine her academic background and clinical work to further understand the relationship between the brain and behaviour. She is an outstanding educator and clinical practitioner who has presented nationally and internationally on this topic and others. Marge developed the Dementia component of the PIECES Training Package for the Alzheimer Strategy and was on the Physician Education Steering Committee and Working Group for the Strategy. She is also one of the co-authors of the GPA training program.

Rosemary Fiss

Rosemary Fiss is the Manager of Education and Support Programs with the Alzheimer Society of Windsor and Essex County. She has been with the Society since March 2004. Rosemary has a Bachelor of Applied Science in Family Studies and Gerontology from the University of Guelph, a Certificate in Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Management from Ryerson University, and completed a Master of Education in Adult Education and Community Development at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto.
Rosemary is a certified instructor for the DementiAbility Methods: The Montessori WayTM and has found that the Montessori principles can change the lives of individuals living with dementia. Rosemary’s passion for excellent dementia care is evident in her training as she blends personal experiences, real-life examples and theory.

Donna Ray – DementiAbility Atlantic Provinces Team Lead

Donna earned her degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Western Ontario and worked for 20 years in that field. After moving to Nova Scotia in 1999, she switched gears and has been following her passion by working and volunteering with people with dementia. She has worked in both long-term care and adult day program settings.

Since taking the DementiAbility Methods: The Montessori Way training, Donna has been passionate about implementing these principles. After becoming a DementiAbility certified instructor, she partnered with Gail Elliot as the Atlantic Canada DementiAbility lead to spread DementiAbility Methods throughout the region. Donna has since held DementiAbility sessions across Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island and has helped dozens of facilities with their DementiAbility Methods implementation. She has also developed a line of DementiAbility Methods Montessori based activities to help long-term care homes and community organizations with their implementation that she sells through her website at keepingbusy.ca.
Gail is the author of the book Montessori Methods for Dementia: Focusing on the Person in the Prepared Environment (currently available in English and Chinese), Memory Aids for Dementia, Helping Me – Helping You: A Resource for the Dementia Caregiver and is co-author of Checklist for Change: A Guide for Facilitating Culture Change in LTC. She is also editor, and author, of the many titles available as part of the Carry on Reading in Dementia series, author of the “Work It” series and creator of the iPad app “Best Guess”, a trivia game incorporates the DementiAbility principles into a game that has been set up for success.

We’re Global

Select a country flag to read to learn more

Hong Kong

Through the Occupational Therapists Association of Hong Kong:

The Hong Kong Occupational Therapy Association invited Gail Elliot to teach DementiAbility Methods: The Montessori WayTM to Occupational Therapists (OTs) who work with individuals who have been diagnosed with dementia. Following the workshop, 65 OTs became certified in DementiAbility Methods and Gail returned in 2011 to teach a second group of OTs these same methods.

The Occupational Therapists in Hong Kong have clearly demonstrated that DementiAbility Methods can improve the quality of life for the individual with dementia as well as their families and providers of care. When Gail visited Hong Kong in 2011 there was clear evidence that the OTs had learned new strategies that contributed to enhanced function and an enriched quality of life for those living with dementia. Environments were modified according to the DementiAbility Methods, and purpose and meaning were added through the use of daily agendas, purposeful activity and meaningful memory aids, based on each individual’s needs, interests, skills and abilities. Congratulations to the OTs in Hong Kong for their great work and tremendous success.

The Montessori Methods for Dementia™ book, written by Gail Elliot, has been adapted to reflect the Hong Kong experience. Occupational Therapists in Hong Kong, who are certified in DementiAbility Methods, contributed cases to the book based on their unique experiences. The book is an excellent resource, with culturally specific adaptations. The book is available for purchase through the Hong Kong Occupational Therapy Association.

Taiwan

Taiwan:

DementiAbility Enterprises is pleased to partner with the Taiwan Cognitive Academy, in Taipei, under the leadership and direction of Dr. Raymond Yan.  Dr. Yan has translated the DementiAbility Methods book, written by Gail Elliot, for those who speak Mandarin, and has started to teach the DementiAbility Methods in Taiwan.

The United States

Cameron Camp:
Through the Center for Applied Research in Dementia:

About 25 years ago, Dr. Cameron Camp made the original connection between Dr. Maria Montessori’s vision, mission and principles and dementia. He continues to conduct research, teach, write and collaborate with experts around the world from a diversity of disciplines.

Jennifer A. Brush:
Jennifer A. Brush, M.A., CCC/SLP is an international speaker and recognized speech-language pathologist known for her work in the areas of memory, swallowing, and environmental interventions for people with dementia. She has served as the Principal Investigator on applied research grants that have examined issues pertaining to HIV/AIDS dementia, hearing impairment, dining, dysphagia, and the long-term care environment. Her research and consulting in the area of environmental modifications has resulted in improved functioning for people with dementia. Jennifer is the co-author of four books: Creative Connections; I Care; Environment and Communication Assessment Toolkit™ (ECAT); and A Therapy Technique for Improving Memory: Spaced Retrieval.

Canada

Gail Elliot:
The growing interest in DementiAbility Methods has been seen coast to coast! The energy generated by each session has created a momentum that has sparked the interest of professionals from diverse disciplines, stimulating a wave of change in dementia care. DementiAbility Methods have attracted people from Victoria in the west, to Halifax in the east to as far away as Yellowknife in the north. This Canadian-born model of care has not remained within its geographical borders, attracting people from all over the world including the United States, Australia, Ireland, Hong Kong and more.

Gail Elliot (Founder and CEO of DementiAbility Enterprises Inc.) teaching in Victoria, BC<div.