Creative Aging Directory - Alzheimer's Poetry Project

Program Title
Alzheimer's Poetry Project
Program Summary

The mission of the Alzheimer's Poetry Project (APP) is to facilitate the creativity of people living with Alzheimer's disease and related neurocognitive disorders. APP conducts workshops for people navigating memory loss. The first half of the workshop is a call-and-response performance—the session leader recites lines of classic, well-loved poems while the group joins together in echoing the words. During the second half of the workshop, these well-known poems serve as inspiration and models for a communal creation of an original group poem. Each session ends with a performance of the group’s newly created poem, giving recognition to the lines and words contributed by the participants. In this initiative, APP seeks to promote community bonding through shared words, passions, and discoveries in the creation and performance of poetry.

Program Background and History

APP was founded in 2004 by poet Gary Glazner in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The organization has held 300 sessions at over 100 facilities across the U.S. and in Germany and Poland, serving over 10,000 people living with Alzheimer's disease. APP has conducted staff training in using poetry with memory loss for over 1,500 healthcare workers and family members.

APP has received funding from the Brooklyn Arts Council, City of Santa Fe Arts Commission, Dane Arts, McCune Foundation, Madison Arts Commission, National Endowment for the Arts, Wisconsin Arts Board, New Mexico Arts, Puffin Foundation, Society for Arts and Health Care, U.S. State Department, and the Witter Bynner Foundation. The National Endowment for the Arts listed APP as a best practice for the NEA Arts and Aging initiative. In 2012, APP was awarded the MetLife Foundation’s Creativity and Aging in America Leadership Award in the category of Community.

Program-Specific Research and Key Findings
Program-Specific Assessment and Evaluation

APP uses stories, testimonials, and surveys to evaluate the effectiveness of its program. As part of a recent pilot project with Easter Seals in Winter Park, Florida, Debra A. Hunt, MSN, ARNP-BC Instructor/Advisor, and doctoral candidate at the University of Florida, helped the program strengthen its evaluation form, which now includes a pre- and post-activity evaluation and uses the following scales: 1 = a more negative response such as crying, leaving the activity or attempting to leave, avoiding touch, agitation, or a verbalizing dislike of the activity; 3 = a neutral response such as no change in facial expression or remaining but not participating; 5 = a more positive response, such as smiling, laughing, repeating poems, animation, physical contact. Also listed: poems used, poems that receive a high response, poems that receive a low response, and facilitator challenges. The results show a high level of response from the participants, with 70% showing increased verbal engagement and positive facial expressions and emotional reactions. The evaluations are an invaluable tool in measuring the effectiveness of the training as well as the participants’ response level.

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APPphotocreditJohannes Lehmann

Arts Discipline
Kinds of Creative Engagement/Program Focus
Creation of Original Work, Participate in an Ensemble
Kinds of Creative Engagement/Program Focus Other
Performing Poetry
Interdisciplinary Connections
Creative engagement
Target Audience
Caregivers - Family, Caregivers - Professional, Intergenerational, People with Alzheimer's Disease / Dementia
Adaptive Program Design
Mobility Disabilities, Cognitive Disabilities
Adaptive Program Design Other
Program Setting
Adult Day Care, Assisted Living
Program Service Area / Geography
Program Service Area / Geography Other