Some years ago, when my mother was still alive and living in a dementia-level rest home, I sat in a meeting for residents’ family members. The discussion turned to activities. One woman said her mother loved poetry, and asked whether poetry could be included in the activities offered. Someone else endorsed the comment and I thought that it would be something that my poetry-loving mother would enjoy. Nothing happened, but later, after my mother’s death, I decided it was an idea worth pursuing.
I was aware that reading, including poetry, is used in some rest homes and day programmes for older people, but I wanted to go beyond reading, discussion and reminiscence. I looked to Gary Glazner’s Alzheimer’s Poetry Project in the USA, and John Killick’s UK dementia poetry programme, In the Pink, for inspiration and guidance. Both projects combined the sharing of poems (especially well-known poems) with the creation of new poems.