Every April, we celebrate National Poetry Month. Poetry is gaining popularity in the senior community as of late, with many seniors opting for different types of poetry classes that are geared toward them. But reading and writing poetry is more than just a fun activity. Poetry has several other interesting benefits for seniors as well.
Several different studies have shown that reading and writing can help to improve memory and other cognitive functions. One study found that activities like reading, writing, and playing games could actually slow the onset of dementia. Sitting down to read a poem doesn’t take as long as reading a chapter in a book, but in the same way that like walking can help your body just as much as running does, reading a poem is just as beneficial to your brain as reading any other type of literature. Groups like the Alzheimer’s Poetry Project aim to help seniors with Alzheimer’s and dementia improve their quality of life by helping them find their creativity and their voices through poetry.
Reading poetry can help to relax and to calm you. It can help to lower your stress levels, in turn, lowering your cortisol levels and your blood pressure. Sitting down with a good poetry book can help you get a few minutes of rest in an otherwise busy world. Choose fun, happy, light poems to help you feel positive and energized. Studies have shown that positive thoughts can help to improve our mental and physical health as well as our overall quality of life.
Helps with Working Through Emotions
If you find the right poem that you can connect with, reading a good poem, whether our loud or privately to yourself, can help you to work through difficult and confusing emotions. As seniors, many of us have already experienced hard and trying times in our lives. While we have previously discussed the fact that poetry can benefit seniors who have dementia, it should also be noted that poetry can also help other seniors cope with the feelings that come with having a partner or a close friend who has dementia. There are several poems written about Alzheimer’s that can help loved ones work through their feelings about the disease. Writing down your thoughts and feelings in the form of a poem can also be helpful. Sometimes the simple act of just getting everything out of your head and down onto a piece of paper can help take some of the heaviness out of your emotions.