On Thursday, June 21, fifteen older adults diagnosed with memory loss performed their published poems and stories for family and friends through the partnership of two local non-profits, Badgerdog Literary Publishing and AGE of Central Texas.
New Connections, a program of AGE of Central Texas, is an early intervention program for people with memory loss, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease. This pioneering program offers evidence-based activities for participants, such as brain exercises, music therapy, a current events discussion group, writing workshops, and a support group led by a mental health care professional.
Badgerdog Literary Publishing, an Austin-based literary arts nonprofit, helps build robust, vital literary communities through the transformative powers of reading and writing. Badgerdog has successfully partnered with AGE on several occasions over the last two years to deliver its Silver Voices in Ink (SVI) creative writing workshops and provide quality arts programming that helps seniors stay intellectually, emotionally, and socially engaged. SVI pairs older adults with professional writers to help them develop artistic skills and share their stories with the community. Participants take part in writing workshops led by professional writers, which culminate in the annual publication, Transcend: Silver Voices in Ink, and include public readings such this past event.
Every 68 seconds, someone in the United States develops Alzheimer’s disease, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. That number is expected to increase to one every 33 seconds by 2050, resulting in 16 million Americans with dementia. In Texas alone, more than 340,000 people had Alzheimer’s in 2010, a 26 percent increase since 2000. As the disease progresses, a person’s ability to recall both short- and long-term memories is affected, along with speech and communication. Writing (either on their own or with assistance) helps restore a sense of identity, control, and personhood that those with Alzheimer’s too often lose.
Dagmar Grieder, whose husband is a participant in New Connections, says it has helped both of them. “The program gives him stimulation and sensitive support in a variety of areas and helps him to have an ongoing, intellectually rewarding life.”
The following is writing sample from one of the participants:
AGE of Central Texas and the New Connections program are funded by the St. David’s Foundation.