Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Creative Writing with the Elderly


It's been awhile since we had creative writing as an activity at the Bridge. We have been very busy with so many things and, well, simply having fun. Having fun is a big part of what happens at the Bridge everyday and it is a very important part. I had a new volunteer signed up to help me, and my amazing assistant, so today we went for it.

Placed on a far end table were several trays covered with cut out magazine pictures I had worked on at home the past few weekends. I had chosen this table as it is near where snack is served. Therefore, when the seniors were on the move towards their seats where the popcorn was waiting, I could interrupt each one of them briefly and ask that they pick out a picture that they were drawn to so as to write about later or to let it simply inspire them to write.

While they ate their snack and other staff was in attendance, I glued the chosen pictures onto large sheets of white paper. Too, I penciled the name of the senior at the bottom of the paper that held the image they had selected. I then arranged dozens of words and sentence fragments taken from Alaska Magazine and a variety of others onto pie trays and cookie sheets. The one senior that this use of those cooking trays would have upset had already left for the day.

When snack was cleared away, I handed each of the seniors their paper with its image glued on. Next, my assistant, our new volunteer, a caregiver that showed up unexpectedly and wanted to help and I walked around the table passing the various trays of words and such to one senior and then another. We collectively invited them to move the words around on the paper until they found the positioning that they liked best.

Soon glue sticks and pencils were being used; the pencils were used to write in words that could not be found on the trays. Too, poetry and prose was blossoming on the pages before me. My new volunteer fit in perfectly. He helped one and then another and then still another with the construction of their pieces.

About 30 minutes later, everyone was saying that their work was done. I gathered up all the supplies and removed them from the table. I asked that all the writing sheets be handed to me and told everyone I was now going to read the poems aloud. This is something that I always do after creative writing work as I truly feel that it is significant for each participant to hear their words read aloud and that it is important that each person's piece be heard by the collective group. Here are several of the pieces composed today:


Good morning.
We need you to have 
Ever after love
Peace and the power
To find what you seek.


The joy of life
Made of little things
You must remember this:


In the beginning 
Where the Wild
Dare to be A
Work of Art
Your Story
And Freedom


There are so
Many reasons to love
Compassion & 
A Tale of


My paradise
Wise Woman
Good Living


Somewhere, a place for us
Last words
Next stop
We love
Trying too hard
Why not dream...
Searching for paradise


Never underestimate the creative intelligence of an individual with dementia.