As I went from resident to resident, reading aloud the well known children's poem, she followed me too. She sat at a distance and quietly listened. When I picked myself up to visit the next resident, she did so too, once again seating herself at a distance, sitting quite still as she listened along to The Owl and the Pussy cat again. The use of poetry might seem counter intuitive, given that people with dementia lose their language, yet studies show that poetry enhances the exchange of people with dementia. From facial, verbal and other bodily responses, its' effect can be seen. Reading aloud to people with dementia has been found to stimulate memories and imagination. Poetry has the potential to unlock memories and emotions, sometimes remembered as poems that were read by parents or grandparents, and sometimes as poems that people were woo-ed by or wed to! Poetry recitation was part of the curriculum throughout schools up until about 1950. The response is more visible yet when you read poetry with a group of people living with early onset dementia. People read and recall along with you, mouths visibly moving to 'I wondered lonely as a cloud' by Wordsworth and laughing along quite heartily to the antics of the Triantiwontigongolope!
Healing words - A study of poetry interventions in dementia care.pdf