a workshop for humans with dementia
poetry meets us exactly where we are. it speaks to us in the present moment. and no one knows how to live in the present moment better than someone living with dementia.
each “Remembering Ourselves” workshop is an hour of singing, speaking, chanting and creating poetry together for assisted living and memory care residents and adult day-out program participants. private sessions are also available via Zoom or in person.
a typical session looks like this: I choose a theme for each workshop and a handful of poems on that theme. I also bring things to support that theme and stimulate other senses. for example, for a theme of spring, I once brought in a giant bowl of fresh rose petals to pass around for the participants to dip their hands in.
one by one, I read each poem call and response style. I read a line, and the participants read a line back to me. this helps us all connect and participate.
the best part though comes at the end, when I ask a few questions about the theme: what is your favorite smell of spring? what color is spring to you? what does spring taste like? I write down everyone’s answers verbatim and create a poem on the spot from their words!
we read it together and are all amazed at how magical poetry feels.
here’s a recent poem written about spring:
A Life Full of Spring
A yellow flower makes me sing.
Birds, butterflies, and the smells of spring
make me sing.
Lilacs make me sing.
Daffodils are number one, but crocuses always come first.
Spring! Spring! Spring!
Whether you say it or sing it, it’s perfect.
The buds on the trees.
The “green fire” of spring,
and the spring in our step as we head towards ice cream.
(Truth be told, ice cream’s good ANY season.)
Spring makes us feel like we’ve had a little liquor.
Dad said, “No liquor in the house!”
But maybe if we drank it from a daffodil?
Spring, I will be your pink tulip, your lily of the valley.
I will be your daisy, your clematis, your old-fashioned red rose.
I will be your amaryllis, your dandelion.
Flower or weed? We’ll see.
Spring, I will be your gerbera daisy, your hydrangea.
Spring, I will bloom bright.
Thank you for showing up!
Please don’t be a stranger, and please come back next year.
Ich Liebe Dich Spring!
Thank you for getting us out of our winter coats.
Thank you for your gorgeous flowers and longer days.
Thank you for teaching us patience.
Summer is coming!
And oh. Hey Winter….
written by cin salach and the Harbors Friends, April 2023
You have a story you can’t get off your mind, but don’t know how to start.
You have a story you need to tell, but don’t feel safe telling it.
You have a story you’ve already written but aren’t sure if it’s ready to split the world open.
You’re a woman who doesn’t have time to write.
You’re a parent who doesn’t have time to write.
You’re a writer who doesn’t have time to write.
“That was a much-needed interaction for my mom. She was very tired afterward, which means she was really concentrating and engaged - and the excitement stayed with her all day! You brought some warm sunshine into this stormy time. She sang "Singing in the Rain" all day & read the poems out loud to us before dinner.”
“You have such a beautiful talent and joyful spirit, thank you for sharing your gifts.”
“cin is so creative, we're thrilled to have had the opportunity to see her in action - thank you for sharing the poem created this morning. We anxiously await our next meeting..."