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, September 23, 2010


The German tour to present the findings from our pilot project, sponsored by the U.S. Embassy in Berlin is going well. Giving a talk in Bonn tonight at an educational conference to leading German teachers. Here is a poem one of the participants from the Tubingen event sent to me on the subject of caring for her mother.


Kim Schröder

Rubbing old bread into a glass bowl
you sneak up on me, indiscernibly, as
doughy pellets rise and I glimpse your freckly face.
You feign comprehension
as I subsume your ‘Queen of the Sunday Roast’ role
as if it was normal
you can’t remember how it’s done.

Chopping velvety mushrooms, finely, so finely,
I glance again at the memory of the visit
having to direct your every move: are you going to dress now?
Would you like a shower? You’d got stuck in the bath.

Cutting red onions, releasing their tartness
you hobble-pace to the sitting room
and back, unsure of its realm and your ranking.
I smile because within your confusion the core
of a joke between us remains, un-laughed at yet.

Milling black pepper over the ingredients
I add lemon juice, the freshest sage, generous garlic,
glugs of olive oil, mix and pat into a Pyrex
presenting it to you for inspection, hoping on a resurrection:
you taught me all I know – don’t go.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Eagle

Inspired by Alfred Lord Tennyson

This summer I have had the pleasure of meeting the folks from "Arts by the People," a New Jersey based group that provide a range of arts programs especially focused on youth and seniors, in Northern New Jersey and New York City. I have been training their President Paul Rabinowitz and their Creative Writing Specialist Ellen Papazian in using poetry with elders. Here is a poem from the Poetry Group at Lester Senior Housing, in Whippany, New Jersey from
September 3, 2010.

The Eagle

The eagle is as majestic as harmony.
I was at the top of a mountain.
I’m a world traveler.
It was in Scandinavia.
I had to look up,
and there it was,
unbelievably beautiful.

So different in size than anything else we can ever see,
looking up at the sky at the top of the mountain
and seeing that magnificent bird.

If I was an eagle,
I would fly very high,
and I would see a celebration
with red, green, orange, and white fireworks.
A display of fireworks.

If I was an eagle,
I would fly high above the universe,
so I could observe the people—the world above,
the world beyond—so I could take in the majesty of it all.

If I was an eagle,
I’d fly to the top of the mountain.
I’d see the universe: Here I am, Universe!
Bring back my sweetheart to me!

If I was an eagle—at my stage of the game,
it’s a little late—I would like to fly to the heavens,
so I can see the true beauty of our world.

If I were an eagle,
I’d fly up to the highest mountain that I can see,
so that I’d look down and see that there are really two worlds:
one down there and one up here.

I’m not a poet. I just do practical things.
I don’t know many eagles.
I take care of my practical things—
living, eating, sleeping, dreaming, clothing.

If I was an eagle,
I’d fly to the highest mountain,
look down to pick out the good and the bad.

When I was in Seattle,
I used to see eagles in the tall pine trees.
They have their little baby birds.
They fly back with the food for the baby eagles,
and they put it in the nest.

If I was an eagle,
I’d fly above the clouds
and find all my friends.

If I was an eagle,
I would look for another eagle that I could befriend,
and together we could fly and then defend.

I would fly to different parts of the world
and see how people live and help them to be happy.
When they see me with my large wings,
they would feel beautiful.

And that’s why we’re all eagle scouts!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

All You Need is Love...

The poem below was created by the residents from assisted living and individuals from the Day Program at Alzheimer's Resource Center of Connecticut. We held a record five training and poetry sessions there on Thursday, September 2nd. That totaled up to 6 plus hours of poetry in one day!

The staff was welcoming and motivated. The facility is one of the best run and organized among the many places I have had the honor of working at the past 6 years.

The training was organized by Erica DeFrancesco, MS, OTR/L their Director of Community Services. Here is what she wrote the following day, "I cannot tell you how much your coming meant to our organization – to our residents, staff, families, and to me. It was a joy to watch the ease with which you shared your gift and inspired others to learn."

From the moment I was greeted at 9:30 in the morning, until I left that evening a little before 8pm, I was impressed by how enthusiastic everyone was. Michael Smith their Executive Director sets the tone by empowering the staff. Do you know how when you go into a restaurant and the owner greets you and you can feel their pride? Everyone I met that day had pride of ownership and that pride transfers into how they treat the residents and how they treat each other.

We talk about patient centered care, I think the folks at the Alzheimer's Resource Center of Connecticut, have figured out that how you get there is by starting with caring about each other. The word that most comes to mind when I think of that day is- Respect. YES! Sing it now...R.E.S.P.E.C.T!

Shouts out also to Kelly Smith Papa RN, MSN their Director of Education, Research and Dementia Care Consulting, who shared a lovely story about her grandfather writing poetry. Click hear to read about the professional training and consulting they offer.

Below is one of the poems we wrote that day.


Yes, I care for love, but to a point!

Love sounds like……that’s kind of hard. Is this poem going to be G or R?

Love smells like….I can’t tell you that…I’ve never smelled anything.

It smells like chocolate, but it depends upon what kind of chocolate you are buying.

Love tastes… white.

My bride....She is pure, for a little while.

Love is wonderful. It is two people turning into one, walking together, singing together, and we’re overdoing it.

Love to me is very special, and you’re blessed if you find a mate. I was married for 60 years, and I have 8 children.

Love is not something you can ridicule or something you can play with. It’s precious.

Love has never changed.

Love can feel… relaxing, or tense, or secure.

Love tastes like… bananas!

Love smells white, like a rose.

Love sounds like… happiness, cheerful and peaceful, like laughter.

Love looks light. You put your arms around your husband. It looks light, and happy, and content.

It looks FLAMING red!