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Poetry Beyond Forgetting

In his Alzheimer's Poetry Project, Gary Glazner uses poetry as a tool with dementia patients to promote creative expression and connection with others.

Photo: courtesy Gary Glazer

Gary Glazner uses poetry to help Alzheimer's Patients express themselves.

Those who suffer from Alzheimer’s often seem lost to the world around them, and research shows their loved ones often withdraw from meaningful communication with them. Gary Glazner is trying to change that trend–through poetry.

“People with dementia–it’s just so clear they still have a voice and still are a person, even if some of the language skills are gone, even if they’re pretty non-verbal,” Glazner said. “I really believe that person is still there.”

Glazner started the Alzheimer’s Poetry Project in 2003 in an effort to improve the quality of life for people with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia by, “facilitating creative expression through poetry.”

During a workshop held in Bloomington in October 2016, those who work closely with dementia patients or who have loved ones suffering from memory impairment were trained in the skills Glazner uses to engage his elderly participants. Things such as call-and-response, physical engagement, and group activities have been shown to reduce stress in people with Alzheimer’s, as well as foster meaningful communication.

“I think that’s one of the things with this research it does not only help improve quality of life but it helps us to understand what it means to be fully human,” Glazner said.

Hear the report from Glazer’s visit to Bloomington at the arrow above.

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