Ryan, E. B. (2017). Aging with spirit through writing. SAGE-ing: The Journal of Creative Aging, #23, 34-35.

Download essay: Ryan17-WritAgingSpirSAGE-ing23

Ryan, E. B. (2016). Creative Writing Groups for Individuals with Dementia.

Ryan, E. B. (2013). Writing practice: Plunging inward for the giving words. In B. Anthony, R. Pevny, E. B. Ryan, C. Moore,  & R. Morris  (Eds),  Second Journeys: The Dance of the spirit in later life (pp. 77-81). Chapel Hill NC: Second Journey.

Download chapter: Ryan13WritingPlungingInwardforGivingWords


Ryan, E. B. (2013). Writing exercises to engage the spirit of travel. In P. S. Bourk (Ed), Journeys outward journeys inward: Travel and transformation (pp. 145-150). Chapel Hill NC: Second Journey.

Download chapter: Ryan13-WritingTravelExercises-Bourk

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Ryan, E. B. Editor (2011). Writing as a Spiritual Practice. Special Issue, Itineraries Winter 2011.

Link to Second Journey: Itineraries special issue: Writing as a Spiritual Practice

Ryan, E. B., & Schindel Martin, L. (2011). Using narrative arts to foster personhood in dementia (pp. 193-217).  In P. Backhaus  (Ed.), Communication in Elderly Care. London: Continuum Press.

This chapter will explain narrative arts and their use in the promotion of personhood. The chapter addresses the use of narrative arts such as storytelling, life writing, memory boxes and collaborative poetry, and provides case examples. The clinical implications of narrative arts for the care of persons with dementia as well as staff development needs are also discussed. We begin with a description of our Canadian context for research concerning older adults with dementia.

 Download article: Ryan&SchindelMartin_Narrative_11

Ryan, E. B. (2011). Book Review: David Richo’s Being true to life: Poetic paths to personal growth. Counseling and Spirituality, 30.

Download article: Ryan RichoBk Rev-11

Ryan, E. B. (2010). Book Review: Joan Chittister’s Gift of Years: Growing Older Gracefully. Counseling and Spirituality.


Ryan, E. B. (2010). Spirituality & Aging. Riding the Waves, Newsmagazine of the Women’s Inter-Church Council of Canada, Winter, 2010, p. 4.


Wingfield, N. C. (2010). Poems – Youth is a flying horse. Journal of Aging, Humanities, and the Arts, 4(1), 73-76. [Edited by E. B. Ryan]

Jaffe, E. S., & Ryan, E. B. (2008). The Stone Angel speaks: Older women’s voices in prose and poetry.  Journal of Aging, Humanities and the Arts, 2, 62-80.

 In this article, we pay attention to the voices of older women, both as writers and as fictional characters, and listen to the stories they tell about aging and about their lives. As Canadians transplanted from the United States, we focus on Canadian writers but also include some Americans; we look at published authors, women writing and talking around their kitchen tables, and women in long-term care. We hope to show how storytelling by the older woman—the crone, the elder—can enhance her presence in the world and let her share her wisdom with future generations.


Ryan, E. B., Schindel-Martin, L., & Beaman, A. (2005). Communication strategies to promote spiritual well-being among people with dementia. Journal of Pastoral Care and Counseling, 59, 43-55.

 Declining communication skills in dementia threaten a person’s sense of self. Building on enduring capabilities, pastoral visitors can significantly enhance spiritual well0being through the use of individualized, person-centred strategies. This article outlines the primary spiritual needs of older adults with dementia and some general strategies to improve communication based on enduring abilities. Detailed examples illustrate how these personhood0-centered strategies can meet spiritual needs by connecting with individuals with dementia through life stories and through helping them to participate in religious life.

To Download: RyanSchindelBeamDementia05.pdf


Ryan, E. B., Clark, S., & Spadafora, P. (2005). Writing my life story, with a little help from my friends. Long Term Care, 15(3), 21-24.

& Cosentino, A., Ryan, E. B., & Papky, P. (2005). Poetry in long term care. Long Term Care, 15(3), 24-27.


Hagens, C., Beaman, A., & Ryan, E. B. (2003).  Reminiscing, poetry writing, and remembering boxes:  Personhood-centered communication with cognitively impaired older adults. Activities, Adaptation, and Aging, 27, 97-112.

 This article describes a method of facilitated communication for extending the well-known benefits of reminiscence by recording the words of nursing home residents and creating a concrete memory resource. Reminiscence sessions were conducted with five cognitively impaired older adults, whose words and phrases were arranged into poetry, revealing the essence of each person. Information gained was used to construct personal Remembering Boxes filled with meaningful objects and writings. As communication tools, the poems and Remembering Boxes helped staff learn more about residents, proving useful when residents were sleepless or agitated. Remembering Boxes offered residents enhanced interactions with their families and staff and greater control of those interactions. These tools can affirm the personhood of the residents amid their confusion and cognitive decline.


Ryan, E. B., Anas, A. P., Beamer, M., & Bajorek, S. (2003). Coping with age-related vision loss in everyday reading activities. Educational Gerontology, 29, 37-54.

 The activity of reading is often threatened in later life by gradual vision loss due to age related conditions such as macular degeneration. We conducted in-depth semi-structured interviews with 26 visually impaired seniors experiencing severe or moderate vision loss. Our aim was to clarify the role of reading for leisure in their lives and also to learn how they dealt with the reading required for instrumental activities of daily living (IADL’s). Participants judged reading, both before and after vision loss, as extremely important to them especially for the purposes of learning and enjoyment. On average, the time spent reading remained the same, and the main decline in the types of materials read was for newspapers and magazines. Approximately 60% of the participants used talking books, while a quarter used computer technology for reading print. With regard to functional independence, the participants identified reading demands involving small print, dials, and currency for the separate IADL domains. Specific strategies reported for coping with these reading-related barriers were analyzed in terms of the selection-optimization-compensation framework of Baltes and Baltes (1990). Providing information in alternate modes and improving access to appropriate assistive devices could enhance older adults’ ability to read for life.


Nolan, K. A., & Ryan, E. B. (2003-2004).  Communicating outside of the “MS-Box”… :

 4 articles:  with health care professionals, about mobility devices, about unwanted help, in the church. Connections: Quarterly News from Hamilton and District Chapter, MS Society of Canada, Fall 2003-Spring 2004.