January 27, 2015

Alzheimer's careYeats, Frost and Angelou are memorable poets who may be able to help our memory. As it turns out, poetry isn’t just a string of beautiful, sometimes rhyming, words; it has actually been scientifically proven that poetry has an effect on the brain. Researchers at the University of Exeter have found that reading poetry can stimulate areas of the brain linked to memory.

The Alzheimer’s Poetry Project has been using the power of poetry to facilitate the creativity of people living with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia, and to help enhance Alzheimer’s care. According to the Alzheimer’s Poetry Project, data indicates that a significant number of people in mid- to late-stage dementia remember words and lines from poems they learned in childhood. The project uses these memories to help engage clients and promote positive social interactions.

We’ve long known about music’s effect on the body, but these researchers looked specifically at the different responses the brain has to poetry and prose, and have been impressed by the findings. Molly Meyer, founder of Mind’s Eye Poetry, helps to facilitate the creation of group poetry by Alzheimer’s patients in Dallas, Texas. The following is a poem that the residents of Autumn Leaves, TX wrote together during one of Molly’s poetry sessions.

If happiness were a sound…

It would be loud like a beating heart,
the sound of children laughing,
church bells ringing, a choir singing,
the sound of clear blue days
when the sky sings love.

In addition to poetry, creative pursuits in general have shown positive effects when used as part of an Alzheimer’s care plan. Art fosters health, communication and expression to promote the integration of physical, emotional, cognitive and social functioning. For people living with Alzheimer’s disease, this truly is important. Even when memory is diminishing, the capacity for imagination is still there, and for some with dementia, their creative ability is even enhanced.

Learn more about the Alzheimer’s Poetry Project, and check out The National Center for Creative Aging (NCCA), which is dedicated to fostering an understanding of the vital relationship between creative expression and healthy aging, and to developing programs that build on this understanding. The NCCA now has a list of creative programs, including those that are specific to people living with Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia.

At Continuum, a central part of our mission is a commitment to enhancing the emotional lives of our clients. We have dedicated caregivers who provide more than just basic care. Continuum provides a holistic care experience that supports our clients and ensures they are nurtured and respected at every level of memory care. Contact us today to find out more about the Missouri home health care services that we offer.