Reviving memories with poetry

Posted under Blog on December 6th, 2013 by Editorial Team / No Comments

Many care homes and hospitals are turning to poetry to provide residents with some respite from the symptoms of dementia.

Just as in music therapy, the rhythm and pace of well-known verses can act as a trigger for memories and speech, according to Jill Fraser, whose charity, Kissing it Better, organises poetry reading sessions for the elderly.

The Alzheimer’s Poetry Project (APP), a New York-based initiative, was set up to facilitate the creativity of people living with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia. The APP holds workshops where classic, well-loved poems are recited and participants encouraged to create their own new poetry. To date, the APP has held programming in 22 US states and served over 10,000 people living with dementia.

Elaine Gibbs is manager of a Stratford-upon-Avon care home that provides regular poetry reading session. She says if patients “hear one word that they can remember from poetry, it brightens their day up”.

Former actress Anita Wright is a volunteer visitor at the home and paints a vivid picture of the impact of poetry on residents. She describes how a patient with advanced dementia wept when she heard a poem about a man saying goodbye to his partner, and began to share the story of how her fiancé had died.

“She had not said a single word since she had been to this home and the poem just broke open the dam,” said Ms Wright.

Tags: Alzheimer's, APP, Care homes, kissing it better



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