This blog will be a place to post poetry written by people living with Alzheimer's disease. We will focus on poetry that is created as part of the Alzheimer's Poetry Project. We will post information and news about dementia. We hope this blog is of use to the family members who have a loved one with dementia.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Tree Poem

This poem was created by the Mindmovers, early stage group at N.E.W. Curative Rehabilitation in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Executive Director, Noreen Greatens and Program Director, Bob Kralapp of Legacies Arts Project Inc., were receiving training as part of our affiliate program.

The poem was created by asking simple questions about trees. What is your favorite? What a person might do in a tree? What animals might you find there? The answers are in order given with care taken to get the language as close to the words the person says when answering and with only light editing.

The discussion and answers grew more animated as the creation of the poem developed. Bob did a great job of getting the text down and led an exciting performance of the poem upon completion. Especially spirited was the section on the gopher and fermentation!


My favorite tree is an oak tree.
If it’s in your yard you just climb it
and you look back down and think -
I’ve got to climb all the way back down.
Then there’s a flying squirrel -
Rocky J. Squirrel.
They eat nuts and bury them.
And they jump.
It feels great.
There’s an element of confidence.
It feels like you’re moving on.

Or an apple tree.
An orchard of them.
Full of apples,
juicy and green.
The Granny Smith.
Then there’s Johnny Appleseed,
From Appleton, Wisconsin,
Famous for planting apple seeds.

The crabapple tree
has beautiful pink blossoms.
It’s in the spring.
It’s almost like snow
when the blossoms fall.
And you jump.
They sure taste juicy.
A little sour but awfully sweet.
Crabapples fall on the ground
and they ferment
and gophers eat them
and they get drunk.

That was the best kind of tree to climb -
the crabapple.
You hang from your knees
and you look and look.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Enrich your Caregiving Journey

Enrich your Caregiving Journey by Margery Pabst and Rita Goldhammer starts with a poem by Pabst that captures the caregiving experience:

Arms and Legs
Tense, constricted,
Unable to bend except
Bowing to relentless days
Brimming over.

Feeling Apart
just keeping up.

Full disclosure, I have gotten to know Pabst through the work for the APP she is funding in Florida through the Pabst Charitable Foundation.

For me this means she has not only written a creative and useful book, full of practical tips on how to become a strong caregiver, she is also committing the resources of her foundation to helping caregivers and advance creative solutions as well.

The book by Pabst and Goldhammer is on one side practical, nuts and bolts advice and tips- like understanding that the values you bring to the table may not be the values of other family members also involved in helping with caregiving for your loved one.

For instance one person may be very private, while the other person is outgoing and wants to be around friends. This could effect who to invite to visit the person and this simple understanding and framing it as a value helps navigate and understand the family dynamics.

On the creative side of the book is that all the tips and advice are framed in stories of fictional families, this literary concept allows Pabst and Goldhammer to maximize the life situations the caregivers find themselves in, but like all good writing it draws you in and I found myself wanting to know what would happen next to the family, how they would handle the next hurdle. This narrative drives the book and humanizes the hands-on advice.

The lessons in the book and the knowledge they impart are hard won. The authors draw on their experience as caregivers and create a book they wish they had access to during their own experiences and that heart infuses the book at every level.

In the introduction Lisa Edstrom, the Associate Director of the University of Minnesota, Center on Aging writes, "This book is an important guide and tool that can't be read to soon. Caregivers most often find themselves suddenly immersed in an unfamiliar world of decisions and stress.

By preparing yourself for your role, you can grow in self awareness and experience both person well-being and effectiveness while enhancing your relationships and the well-being of your loved one."

You can find out more about the book at

One last note the book won the 2010 Caregiver Friendly Award from Today's Caregiver.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

APP in the News

Wonderful article in today's WORCESTER Telegram by Jacqueline Reis
(Photo credit- T&G Staff Photos / CHRISTINE PETERSON)


This poetry session was part of training the APP is doing with Skip Shea and Anna Chinappi and the Center for Peaceful Living.

Thursday, July 8, 2010


Here is a link to a National Public Radio show on the APP produced by Paul Ingles

"In New Mexico, poet Gary Mex Glazner has found that poetry can sometimes have a beneficial effect for people struggling with Alzheimer's disease. Reporter Paul Ingles accompanied Glazner on a recent visit to the Sierra Vista Assisted Living Center in Santa Fe."

Here are comments from Ellen Sue Stern

"I just want to say that
after my mom died
that I wished I had known
during the horrid years of her decline...

we'd be there, watching her eat her napkin,
Maureen screaming, total chaos, mom begging to leave
we'd walk out in total despair

after my mom died
I read writing by individuals
in early stages of dementia
what an eye opener.

they expressed their reality as
nothing like what we were projecting on them, i.e.
we suffered over leaving them
and how horrible it was there

but for them, guess what?
the power of now

they were actually living in the present moment
none of which negates the horror-but
as a family member,

it would have been nice
to know that by the time I was out the door,
she had long forgotten the pain and chaos
that we assumed she was feeling
because its what we were feeling


I've made a point of sharing
the info with far too many friends
whose parents
are now in some stage
of dementia.

You can read more about her at:

She sent them by Facebook as I was preparing
the info about the NPR show and gave
me permission to publish them here.
Hope they are useful!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

APP in the News

Here is a link to an article by Kate Santichon the APP in the Orlando Sentinel

"Once-somber faces light up with recognition, heads nod, hands clap, listeners giggle and laugh. A palpable energy and connection builds from a room of strangers often lost in their own thoughts."

Photo Credit Jacob Langston