Poetry isn’t just a string of beautiful, sometimes rhyming, words; it has actually been proven to have some significant affects on the brain. In fact, researchers at the University of Exeter have found that reading poetry can stimulate areas of the brain linked to memory. Creative pursuits in general have shown positive effects when used as part of an Alzheimer’s care plan. Dr. Bruce L. Miller, Professor of Neurology at the University of California, San Francisco has been helping to shed light on just how beneficial creative outlets are for people living with Alzheimer’s and dementia. In fact, according to his research, creativity appears to be an area untouched, and for some even enhanced, by the disease.
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.
Molly Meyer, founder of Mind’s Eye Poetry, helps to facilitate the creation of group poetry by Alzheimer’s patients. The following is a poem that the residents of U.S. Memory Care in Colleyville, TX wrote together during one of Molly’s poetry sessions
The smell of rain
fills the autumn night.
Leaves stream softly,
a waterfall of light.
A lonely bench rests
in the glow of night.