Dementia Arts

Celebrating Creativity in Elder Care

By Gary Glazner

ISBN 978-1-938870-11-8
7 x 10 papercover
232 pages
© 2014


CHANGE THE WORLD POETRY PIE 1 stubborn poet. 1 lifetime of work. 1 billion minds. Simmer on low for a long time, stir gently, and change the world one mind at a time.

Change the World Poetry Pie—just one of the many recipes in Dementia Arts—provides the “ingredients” for making a difference in the lives of people with dementia by tapping into their creativity. Author Gary Glazner, founder of the Alzheimer’s Poetry Project (APP) and Institute for Dementia Education and Arts (IDEA) guides readers in using poetry and the arts to increase interaction and encourage amusement and joy in dementia care.

With a focus on demonstrating how anyone—not just poets or artists—can effortlessly incorporate creative verbal expression into activities of daily living (ADLs), this book emphasizes simple poetry techniques and how they can be combined with dance, exercise, music, storytelling, and visual art to facilitate a new and positive way of communicating with people in all stages of dementia.

Discover within these pages your inner creativity through

  • simple tips for building a poetry session, including call and response, poems as discussion starters, incorporating props, and creating group poems
  • specific guidelines and advice for creating poems as a caregiver
  • joyful and creative poems and advice on selecting poems
  • humorous and distinctive approaches to dementia care, from “The Ballad of the Happy Guitar” to “Gary’s Feel the Burn Poetry Party”
  • creative ways to make ADLs more enjoyable using props, poems, movement, and song
  • over 35 recipes of engaging activities that elicit smiles and laughter

Sprinkled throughout are delightful and touching anecdotes about using poetry as a caregiver, both in groups and one-on-one. Professional and family caregivers will discover the joy in poetry and the arts, and how easily and fully they can be employed to achieve positive results and inspire truly meaningful connections.

Exceptionally unique and easy to implement, Dementia Arts seeks to entertain, inspire, guide, and help family caregivers, as well as professionals in assisted living, long-term care, and adult day who want to support and enhance the lives of elders. Here is the recipe to communication success.

Recipes for Engagement
About the Author, the Alzheimer’s Poetry Project, and the Institute of Dementia Arts and Education

Ways to Use this Book
On Being a Caregiver

One: Poetry

  • On Starting the Alzheimer’s Poetry Project and Sharing Poems with a Loved One
  • Basic Principles of the Alzheimer’s Poetry Project, with a Sprinkling of Poetry Tips
  • Call and Response
  • Using Poetry as a Discussion Starter
  • Props
  • Dr. London and Ocean: Creating a Poem Using Open-Ended Questions
  • On Chanting Poetry
  • Does the Monkey Want a Peanut?

Two: At Home

  • Creating a Poem One-on-One and Using Large Type
  • Creating a Poem Using Oral History
  • Everyday Speech as Poetry

Three: Caregiver Writing Prompts

  • The Ballad of the Happy Guitar: How to Write a Letter Poem
  • Lucile on Creating a Poem Using a Timed Writing Exercise
  • Listening as Poetry: How to Write an “I Hear” Poem
  • Main Street as Poetry: How to Write an “I See” Poem
  • Work as Poetry
  • Esther’s Caregiver Writing Workshop

Four: Art

  • Art Inspiring Performance and Creation of Poetry
  • CommuniTea: Creating an Event Around Sharing Tea
  • Clay as Poetry
  • Fabiana’s GoldMind

Five: Music

  • Poem and Song Medley
  • Blues Poetry Workshop
  • Jazz and Poetry: A Technique to Build Performance Skills

Six: Movement

  • Square Dancing to Poetry
  • Poetry as Exercise

Seven: Improvisation

  • Yes, and: Improvising as a Communication Tool
  • Pass the Smile: With a Sprinkling of Improv Games

Eight: International Programming

  • The Ducks of Germany
  • Dateline Seoul, South Korea
  • Cake Boy Parties Down at the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw: How to Write a Superhero Poem
  • Dichos: Spanish Language Programming
  • International Programming

Nine: Intergenerational Programming

  • Poetry for Life
  • Kinds Playing with Words

Ten: Building Community

  • Through the Looking Glass—A Lesson in Empathy
  • Memory Arts Cafe and the Memory Arts Bistro
  • Dementia-Friendly Communities
  • Building Community: On Passing the Smile as Metaphor for Passing on the Legacy

Biology of Poetry
Epilogue: The Senator’s Ear

First Lines of Poems

Dementia Arts: Celebrating … by on Scribd

Gary Glazner is the founder and Executive Director of the Alzheimer’s Poetry Project (APP). Under Glazner’s leadership, the APP received the 2013 Rosalinde Gilbert Innovations in Alzheimer’s Disease Caregiving Legacy Award and the 2012 MetLife Foundation Creativity and Aging in America Leadership Award in the category of Community Engagement. The National Endowment for the Arts listed the APP as a “best practice” for their Arts and Aging initiative.

Glazner is an internationally recognized speaker and expert on using poetry with people living with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias and has given talks at more than 30 conferences for groups including the Alzheimer’s Association; Alzheimer’s Foundation of America’ Global Alliance for Arts and Health; Grant Makers in the Arts; Institut für Bildung und Kultur; Korean Arts and Culture Education Service; Pioneer Network and the U.S. Veterans Administration.

NBC’s Today show, PBS NewsHour, NPR’s All Things Considered, and Voice of America have featured segments on Glazner’s work. HarperCollins, W.W. Norton, and have published his work. Glazner has worked with many institutions using their art to inspire the performance and creation of poetry by people living with memory loss, including the Brooklyn Museum, Museum of Modern Art, Minneapolis Institute of Art, Orlando Art Museum, Neuberger Museum of Art, New Mexico History Museum, SPARK! Alliance (of museums in Wisconsin and Minnesota), and Toldeo Art Museum.

4 reviews for Dementia Arts

  1. Administrator

    “…our grasp of language has a beginning in poetry. To see it used at a very different stage of life, and to such effect, was deeply moving.”
    —Natasha Trethewey, U.S. Poet Laureate

  2. Administrator

    “As an early supporter of the Alzheimer’s Poetry Project, the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America is pleased to see how far Gary’s message of creative arts enrichment has spread over the years. This book will deliver that message even further, directly into the hands of both family caregivers and professionals so they can engage people with dementia. The timing is perfect: as the incidence of this brain disorder escalates, we are all searching for behavioral interventions to appropriately manage this disease. Gary presents the techniques in a down-to-earth, easy-to-implement style. By weaving his own storytelling and positive experiences into the book, Gary compels the reader to move forward into the world of the creative arts and offers a magical ‘recipe’ for success.”
    —Carol Steinberg, President, Alzheimer’s Foundation of America

  3. Administrator

    “In Dementia Arts: Celebrating Creativity in Elder Care, teaching artist/slam poet Gary Glazner has created a cook book of recipes to guide caregivers in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, memory care centers or their own homes. In so doing—while teaching us dementia-friendly communication skills—he helps us participate in building a better world. If you’re a caregiver of anyone—whether Alzheimer’s and dementia patients, people with physical disabilities, even healthy children— Glazner’s Dementia Arts: Celebrating Creativity in Elder Care is a must read and a must use.”
    —Esther Altshul Helfgott, Ph.D., author of Dear Alzheimer’s: A Caregiver’s Diary & Poems (Cave Moon Press, 2013) and Listening to Mozart: Poems of Alzheimer’s (Cave Moon Press, 2014)

  4. Administrator

    “Gary Glazner gives us valuable lessons in in how to engage those with dementia using creativity and poetry. If you are open to having fun when caring for others, Dementia Arts: Celebrating Creativity in Elder Care can shift your care culture as you meet the needs of those you serve.”
    —Lori La Bey, founder of

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