POET CONNECTS: US Alzheimer's Poetry Project founder Gary Glazner will inspire attendees at the 10th Annual International Arts and Health Conference at Port Macquarie with his stories of reaching dementia patients.
POET CONNECTS: US Alzheimer's Poetry Project founder Gary Glazner will inspire attendees at the 10th Annual International Arts and Health Conference at Port Macquarie with his stories of reaching dementia patients.

Poetry a way forward for dementia sufferers

USING "echo memory", American Gary Glazner is able to engage people with even late stage dementia in a poetry call and response.

The rhythm and rhyme excite their language centres, firing the synapses, brightening faces, bringing laughter and social connection.

The Alzheimer's Poetry Project founder and executive director is one of 80 acclaimed national and international speakers at November's 10th Annual International Arts and Health Conference in Port Macquarie, just a few hours drive away.

Gary said family members have told him, "you've given me back the person I used to know" if only for a few precious moments, and there is anecdotal evidence that some benefits can be long-term, potentially making new synaptic connections.

Creative Ageing and Dementia are key areas to be explored at the conference, along with Mental Health and Resilience, and Arts and Health in Hospitals and Health Promotion, with an overarching theme of Mental Health and Resilience through the Arts.

With someone in the world developing dementia every 3 seconds, the condition affecting one in 10 people aged over 65 and no definitive cause or cure, it is clear why this is such a worthwhile area in which to be involved.

Dementia Australia estimates more than 436,000 people nationwide are currently living with dementia; 6000 of those are on the Central Coast.

Others keynote speakers on Dementia and Creative Ageing at this year's conference include:

Dementia Australia National Policy and Strategy Advisor Kirsty Carr, who will examine how to hone our imagination, intuition and instinct to enhance connection, communication and meaning in ageing; Alice Thwaite, director of Equal Arts, Newcastle, UK, a world leader in creative ageing programs, skills training and arts on prescription models and Anne Gallacher, founding director of Luminate, the lead agency in arts and ageing in Scotland.

Also discussed will be:

. dance and movement programs for the mature-aged and people living with Parkinson's disease and dementia;

. the effects of art gallery groups on quality of life for people living with dementia;

. creative art programs and neuroplasticity in people living with dementia; and

. involvement in theatre, story-telling and changing perceptions around ageing and ability.

Other specialist areas include the arts in relation to youth and general mental health and wellbeing, hospitals, the environment and remote and refugee communities.

Run by the not-for-profit Australian Centre for Arts and Health from November 12 to 15, you can attend for a day or the entire conference.

To find out more and to register to attend, go to www.artsandhealth.org.au


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