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How Elderly People with Dementia Benefit from a Poetry Workshop

By Nikhil Mehta, 9:00 am on

Cognitive decline is a difficult reality for many senior citizens. The term dementia refers to a general loss of memory and cognitive function affecting an individual’s ability to recall facts, names, words, and personal memories. There are several types of dementia, one of the more commonly mentioned being Alzheimer’s disease. Research is ongoing in hopes of curing this debilitating condition. However, individuals with dementia are often under-stimulated and easily overwhelmed by conventional approaches used to treat cognitive decline. 

Current treatment approaches for dementia place a heavy focus on medications that are intended to treat the symptoms. Scientists know that changes in neural connections are caused by cell damage. The current medicinal regimen does not cure dementia, but there are ways to ease the symptoms of this health condition. The individuals with dementia, as well as their caregivers, are left with little guidance on how to effectively navigate communication around the symptoms of the disease. 

Dementia caregivers often feel overwhelmed when they have difficulty communicating with their loved ones. Families who need help caring for a senior loved one can turn to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of Palm Desert, CA, senior care. Services available in our customizable care plans include meal prep, mental and social stimulation, assistance with personal hygiene tasks, and much more.

Poet Molly Middleton Meyer lost both of her parents to Alzheimer’s disease. Her tragic loss led to the development of Mind’s Eye Poetry. Meyer recognized how a person with dementia could use his or her differently organized mind and altered cognitive state to his or her benefit. With the right approach, it could be used to communicate in a more artistic manner, and the results are hopeful for both participants and their caregivers. Meyer conducts poetry workshops for people living with dementia in memory care facilities. 

Some seniors may need help from a professional caregiver to attend these creative workshops and perform daily activities. Performing daily tasks while simultaneously managing the symptoms of a serious illness can be challenging for seniors. The Palm Desert live-in care experts at Home Care Assistance are available 24/7 to make sure your loved one has the care he or she needs to remain safe and comfortable while aging in place.

Mind’s Eye Poetry: How It Works

  • The poetry facilitator asks open-ended questions to prompt words and stories from the participants.
  • The facilitator is then able to extract words and parts of the conversation to create poems that the participant can then add to, or elaborate on, in whatever way the memory is jogged. 
  • It takes the pressure off because there are no right or wrong answers. The flow of words can be as conventionally fluid or as perfectly jumbled as the participant produces. 
  • Every poem is unique to the individual and an expression of his or her life in some way. 
  • Mental imagery exercises are conducted by having the participants close their eyes while poems are read out loud. A participant who described the experience as “having an eye in the mind that sees pictures” coined the name Mind’s Eye Poetry. 
  • Meyer believes the nonlinear thought processes of seniors with dementia attribute to a higher quality of poetry than those without dementia. Higher abstract connections make for beautiful storytelling. 
  • It is vastly different from traditional therapies offered to individuals with dementia that often focus on mind puzzles, cognitive exercises, and memory games, all of which can be increasingly frustrating to a person who might recall executing these activities with great speed and ease in the past.

As dementia progresses, seniors often require more assistance with the simple activities of daily living. For many families in Palm Desert, CA, Alzheimer’s care is an essential component of helping their elderly loved ones remain healthy, safe, and happy in the comfort of home. From cognitive stimulation to help with tasks like meal prep, light housekeeping, and transportation, the caregivers at Home Care Assistance are the top choice for families who cannot provide the Alzheimer’s care their aging loved ones need and deserve. Call us at (760) 345-0001 to schedule a free in-home consultation.