Poetry Workshop for Creative Caregiving recap

“Observe.” “Ask.” “Engage.”  Observe.”  “Adapt.” “Observe.”  and so the engagement cycle goes when working creatively with elders.

Pauline Daniels, Creative Engagement Director at Goodwin House in Alexandria, worked from a seemingly endless toolkit as she shared anecdotes, truisms and more than a dozen types of poetry to draw from when working with elders.

“Slow down and meet them where they are.” “Make their pace your pace.”  “Approach activities with a sense of playfulness.”  “The process  is more important than the product.”

Poetry used to be core to every school child’s reading experience.  Today…not so much.  But poetry and spoken word, it seems, are constantly reinvented and reshaped as new generations reach for creative, compelling ways to express themselves.

The early, emotional connections elders made with poetry as children is now what draws them back into the art form as elders.  They grew up before TVs were in every home, meaning they listened more than watched.  They read and they wrote.  They remember famous poems and they recognize lines to many more poems, making poetry accessible and enjoyable, even for those with dementia.  

Daniels spent a good deal of time discussing group poetry-making processes and how different types of poetry might lend themselves.  Props, seating, theme, support staff, follow-on activities to the poetry project all were addressed.

“I enjoyed learning about the age theory beforehand, and applying it to the creative use of poetry,” wrote one attendee.  “Five stars.  I wish we had more time,” wrote another.  

We hope this is the beginning of many new poems in our community, created by people who need and deserve the chance to have their voices heard.