The Living Words program in the UK uses literature and arts to work with dementia patients. One part of the program creates Living Words Word Books for each patient.
The dementia patients are actively listened to and their words recorded. Their words are then used to write a poem which helps convey a sense of where or who they are at the time the words were recorded. The poems are placed in the book along with photos and information about the patients which is "non-scientific."
What I find interesting and innovative about this approach is that the books are included in the patients' medical charts. They are there for the doctors and other care staff to reference. While the medical charts may include information such as blood pressure, prescription list and descriptions of the medical encounters a doctor may have with the patient, the books provide insight into thoughts, personality and the humanness of the patient.
It is this aspect, the humanness, that is so easy to loose sight of when the person is in the last stages of the disease and is no longer able to communicate. They may not see well, if at all. They may not speak in a way that is meaningful to us. They may not be able to control their body. Nonetheless, they are still human. They still think and feel. They can still react to their environment even if it is not in a way we expect or understand.
I was particularly taken by a poem titled "King or Queen." I am including it below with permission from Living Words. (Thank you, most kindly.)
King or Queen
It's called 'Patient Condition'
You must not just say
'Good morning', 'Goodbye'
It minimizes the relationship
Try and appraise, interest
Tenderness, consciousness, confidence
The fact you are sharing with them
Uplift the feeling
'Feel better already',
Make us feel human
Not just a dummy.
Pretend you have all the time
In the world
We will feel like King or Queen
King or Queen is copyright of Living Words.
Living Words website
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