Dementia Suffer Rediscovers Love For Teaching Poetry

PoetryA 76-year-old published poet who rediscovered her love of teaching and writing poetry has established a poetry group for dementia sufferers, despite also suffering with the disease herself.

The former Lewes resident, who does not want to be named, was diagnosed with dementia a number of years ago and began living at specialist dementia care home, Clifden House in Seaford, earlier this year.

She now leads a regular poetry class for fellow dementia sufferers, and said: “It’s so nice to be back in the limelight”. They talk about poetry, give readings, and have a go at writing their own.

Over a four-decade career she had several poetry collections published and was a reviewer for The Evening Standard. Her work appeared internationally in anthologies and magazines, she was a regular reader at festivals and leading poetry venues, and she won the Cholmondeley Award for poetic achievement in 2007.

Clifden House activity manager, Deena McCormack said: “It is hugely important that our residents are supported to continue to do what they most enjoy. We aim to show that activity and socialisation can stretch beyond what you may expect to literary criticism and beyond! We make every effort to establish what activities stimulate the individual to the greatest degree, and for this lady it’s poetry. The therapeutic benefits for her and indeed our other residents are immense.

“With dementia it is often difficult to predict when sufferers might be able or willing to do the activity again. While they may not have the same ability as they had before dementia, the most important aspect is the stimulation and enjoyment they get from it -– so our mantra is always ‘carpe diem’ – seize the day!”