Monday, December 10, 2007

Hospice and Nursing Home Poem: Inside Dementia, Alzheimer's Disease

This post includes the poem “Pieces of Our Minds” from my book "Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes.” Each chapter ends with an original poem.

Do you ever wonder what it might be like inside the minds of patients with dementia? I do. Dementia refers to a group of conditions that gradually destroy brain cells and lead to mental decline. Alzheimer’s (Ahlz-high-merz) disease is the leading cause. Most people who have the disease are over sixty-five, with eighty being the average age of diagnosis. There is no cure for patients with dementia, and they eventually need complete care.

As a hospice volunteer, I have spent many hours, individually and in groups, interacting with patients who have dementia. When I am with them, I consciously try to view the world from their perspectives. This helps me understand them better and interpret needs they can’t always verbalize. That process inspired me to write this poem:

Pieces of Our Minds

On the border, on the brink,
we shiver like quivering tears
swollen to fullness with distress,
reluctant to spill an excess.

Strapped in delusions
wondrous and weird, we ride
roller coasters of reality
through joy and fear.

On the brim, on the rim,
like balls circling in frustration,
we scramble for thoughts
lost in nets of uncertainty.

Invaded by memories,
peeping, creeping, weeping,
we laugh and cry to the
rhythm of nostalgia.

On the fringe, on the edge,
changing, adjusting, impacting,
we crave compassion in our
search for society’s sanctuary.

© Frances Shani Parker

You can hear me reciting this poem on YouTube.

Frances Shani Parker, Author
"Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes”
Hospice and Nursing Homes Blog

1 comment:

  1. The early stages of Alzheimer's and other causes of dementia can be difficult to spot, but there are some signs that are useful in spotting the disease.