WisdomVerse for Assisted Living Facilities
I have been offering the WisdomVerse program to seniors in assisted living facilities for several years. Participants include those who have Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other cognitive and physical impairments. By bringing poetry to this unique group I am able to bring light and fun into their days. With a relaxed, calm and supportive manner,I have shared my enthusiasm for poetry with seniors throughout Santa Cruz, Monterey and Santa Clara Counties. I am happy to announce that in 2018 the WisdomVerse program had the honor of being recognized by the Institute for Poetic Medicine and so named as a poetry partner with the Institute. Through a grant given by IPM I am able to bring WisdomVerse to even more facilities.
“These days, at 82, I am usually the elder where ever I go and worry that my poor hearing and eyesight may be a problem but I have been treated with kindness and respect at all times. Though we are different ages, races and genders we have blended and enjoy sharing our stories and poems. I am amazed that Magdalena can balance so much and still have fun with her students. She has a good sense of humor. Whenever I leave a session I feel energized and look forward to the next time. I am very grateful to have the poetry circle in my life.” — Bernice Rendrick
How does it work? During a poetry writing workshop participants make connections — with the facilitator, with others in the group, and with neural pathways in the brain. Besides the “mystery” of poetry, which innately brings delight and connection, perhaps you could say the “secret” to my success is my profound respect for each individual and my belief that poetry connects people at a level that is far deeper than linear thinking.
The goals of a poetry workshop are to:
- foster connection, between facilitator and participants and also among participants
- stimulate the language part of the brain
- call up memories
- acknowledge thoughts and feelings
- entertain and enliven residents with the musicality of words
- set residents up for success
I know that part of the popularity of these workshops is my teaching style, as well as the thoughtfully chosen poems that I share. When facilitating a workshop with assisted living residents I strive to create an environment that is calm, aiming to provide participants with a sense of security and as much as possible, control. My teaching technique is to reassure seniors that their voice is important and that there is no wrong way to take part in the activity; for some this may mean just sitting quietly. At whatever level one joins is okay, because being enfolded in the energy of the poetry circle offers its own rewards. And there is plenty of positive encouragement for even the slightest bit of participation.
Evidence of success of the program includes satisfaction from activity leaders and program directors; cessation of agitation in residents; tremendous poems; smiles. One resident thanks me repeatedly when I see him for “re-engaging” his brain. Another woman tells me to “keep doing this important work.”
I have worked with residents at:
- Visiting Nurses Association of Monterey Adult Day Service Center
- Carmelo Park, Monterey
- Sunrise Senior Living, Monterey
- Canterbury Woods, Pacific Grove
- Aegis, Santa Cruz
- Dominican Oaks, Santa Cruz
- La Posada, Santa Cruz
- Sunshine Villa, Santa Cruz
The poetry class has become a favorite of many of our participants and they have voiced only positive comments afterwards. Ms. Montagne has developed a teaching style that is compatible with our participant’s needs and abilities so that they always feel successful…I believe that Ms.Montagne’s poetry class has been a positive addition to our programming and our participants are fortunate to have another stimulating activity to enhance their day. — Mia Gomez, Director, VNA Adult Day Service Center.