Phil - world poetry day 2018

Three poems about dementia on World Poetry Day

Three people affected by dementia have written about their experiences on World Poetry Day 2018. Read their dementia poems and more.

Writing a poem about how you or a loved one has been affected by dementia can offer relief for both writer and reader. It can also provide a powerful insight into what dementia means for those living with it every day.

To mark World Poetry Day 2018, we're featuring three poems written by people affected by dementia. Despite their experiences being very different, each poet chose to share their work in the hope it might help others in a similar situation.

A big thank you to our three writers and happy World Poetry Day.

A Poem About My Wife

Phil’s wife, Beverly (pictured above with Phil) was diagnosed with mixed dementia in 2013 and was placed in residential care two years later. Cared for brilliantly, she remains happy and contented. Phil's poem is a powerful account of how dementia has changed both their lives.

A Poem About My Wife, by Phil Sharman

Where have you gone?

Why did you leave?

You could not tell me
 

I watched you leaving

In your mind always with me

In my mind you slipping away 

Little things

Forgotten skills

Confusing words  
 

Once you dressed yourself

Used a knife and a fork

Then dignity slipped away  
 

Once we slept together

Then you slept by day

And I worried by night  
 

You Walked into town alone

Enjoying your independence

But friends found you and returned you
 

We planned to tour the world

Each able to play our part

Now those dreams are gone  

Others your family now
 

Many share your condition

Some care for you as I wish I could  

When I visit Your face lights up

But words do not come  
 

Your eyes ask how I am

Your touch compassionate

Your lips still passionate  
 

We sit together

Words from me

Smiles from you  

Cruel dementia

Stealing your memories

But leaving mine

---

When My Grandad Had Dementia

Aged 13 years, Katelan wanted to express how she felt after her Grandad, Robin Sayers, died of Alzheimer’s disease. And so she decided to write a poem about her feelings. Here we share her brilliant work.

Dementia poems: Katelan, at the front left, with her mum, dad and two sisters, Kira and Madison.

Katelan, at the front left, with her mum, dad and two sisters, Kira and Madison.

When My Grandad Had Dementia, by Katelan Carter

It was a hard time in our lives,

When my Grandad had dementia.

He found things hard and would suffer,

So my Nan was like a carer.  
 

He used to mix me and my sister up,

When my Grandad had dementia.

Bonnie was his favourite pup,

And she used to nap with him on the sofa.  
 

His step were slow, stiff and heavy,

When my Grandad had dementia.

But then one night we got a call,

About his terrible fall.  
 

Mum went to see him hospital,

When my Grandad had dementia.

I tried to see the light of the tunnel,

Playing on the swings at the park.  
 

One day at school snow started to fall,

When my Grandad had dementia.

In my heart I knew it was a sign.

I wondered whether everything was fine.  
 

After school I got told the news,

And instantly my heart broke and bruised.

He wasn’t coming home.

Instead heaven he went.
 

When my Grandad died with dementia.

---

I Talked to a Lady

Tanya is the full-time carer for her mother who is living with dementia.

In this moving poem, she describes some of the challenges - and joys - of talking to her mother.

Dementia poems: Tanya, who cares for her mother who has dementia.

Tanya, who cares for her mother who has dementia.

I Talked to a Lady, by Tanya Howden

I talked to a lady yesterday

She didn’t know my name

She was amazed to hear about my past

and the places I had been

Her daughter’s life so similar

filled her with awe and fear

She looked at me bewildered

could this really be real?
 

We talked about her family

We talked about her past

We talked about the folk she’d known

Their walk their talk their cheer

The ones who floated through her world

And those who stopped to share

We talked about the future

her hopes her dreams her fears

We talked about her sorrows

All the sadness life threw in

We talked about her children –

(Some things I shouldn’t hear!)

We giggled and cried and laughed

at a life so rich so full

And in a moment shared

sat in silence with our thoughts …

And I whispered “Goodnight Mother”

as her eyes succumbed to dreams
 

I talked to a lady today

She didn’t know my name

She was amazed to hear about my past

and the places I had been

Her daughter’s life so similar

filled her with awe and fear

She looked at me bewildered

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21 comments

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Take a walk with me...
Take a walk with me down memory lane
Memories will never be the same
Tainted by a cruel disease
Blown away like a summers breeze
As people fade like old photographs
We begin to walk down a different path
My world no longer makes sense in your head
So I try to understand yours instead
The fairies in the garden the stones that scraped her knee
Your looking for a little girl that little girl was me
Your rushing back to look after the kids at home
We are looking after you now us kids are fully grown
On and off the buses in and out of town
Pacing up and down the room you no longer just sit down
Forever searching for loved ones no longer here
How long has it been? How many years?
Sometimes you remember you are back just like before
But then the vacant look creeps in you are gone again once more
Dementia will not be the one that takes your life away
But because of it the man I knew is slipping every day
Dementia takes away your mind your sense of reality and time
Dementia takes your memories but in promise you it wont take mine
Dementia takes but it also gives and I'm not sure what is worse
I cant imagine what it's like living with this curse
Dementia gives you fear and makes you feel alone
You dont know who or where you are with your family in your own home
Take a walk with me down memory lane
Before dementia takes my name
One day you wont know my face tell me what do I do?
The day dementia comes and takes me away from you
You were here with me yesterday
Tomorrow isnt promised but we still have today

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Hi Abbie,
Your poem is beautiful my daughter would love to recite your poem at a school competition she has been selected for next month. Your poem is very close to our heart as my grandfather had suffered from dementia.
Is it possible if you could give us your full name so we can read it out to give credit to such an emotional poem? Could you please reply to me on the following email account of your happy to do so:[email protected].
Kind Regards
Julia

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My life has been filled with many things
but my heart is filled with you
We all must face the good and the bad, as we age
and travel our path trusting God
(You taught me that by example)
Just as I thought any joy was behind me
at a time that I felt my love was retired
a new door opened and the Lord turned the page
a knock on my door presented me
with a love like no other…and that love was you
the soul that you shared renewed
my relationship with God
and I found a dream come true
in the life I’ve shared with you
You have humbled my life aspirations
thinking that a spotlight and fame
was the only thing that would fulfill one’s life
But the person that I found in you set a higher bar
That demonstrated strength, spirituality,
love, commitment, determination, and
A heart that shares and selflessly contributes
To those that you love and those that need your love
and those that require your care and assistance
Whenever it is needed….That is success and that is YOU

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She comes down stairs
and asks me if today is Sunday
I assure her that it will be here soon
It makes sense… for that is the day that she is dressed for
as It stands out as one of her favorite days of the week
A day that takes her closer to our Lord
as she has always looked to HIM and prayed
in the quest to nurture and humble her soul
so many of us have gotten lost in the journey
But somehow she has remained steadfast in her commitment
And trusted HIS will
and graciously abides by her calling and has always been well served
by God’s blessings…Her love for HIM has re-ignited my soul
As I have been inspired by her devout faith
to serve in a mutual love that celebrates what
Christ has sacrificed for all of us
Just because it is only Wednesday does not mean
in her mind, it could be Sunday once again
A day she that she feels comfort and security in her praise
for OUR FATHER
And if indeed that Christian spirit, that has illuminated her heart
and made that organ the center of her unrelenting beauty
Then so be it….
Yes Betty, today is Sunday

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14

TWO SHOES OF A DIFFERENT COLOR

Two shoes appear as a pair outside her door
Serving to dress her feet but each a different color

Does it really matter?

Each foot, ‘so’ unique as is the soul that guides their path
Yes they will fulfill the purpose and will protect and warm her feet
The mere fact that the two shoes don’t match are only a mere oversight of the clothier…and have little to do with the function

Life can be like that in that the inner and outer perceptions are not always the same

A culture so captivated by habit

Can’t understand that the right and left can be two different colors
But can traverse and share the same road

My subject matter is ambiguous by design and inspired
by what I witnessed when I awoke this morning

To a pair of my partner’s shoes by the door
Two shoes of a different color

Yes…her mind chooses to wear them…yet dismiss their differences
And accept their function over their color
to move forward in her wonderful life
with all the people around her
that will carry her above their shoulders
love her and know that she will be alright
and be so blessed by the Lord

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12

THE UNINVITED GUEST
Who are YOU?
This uninvited guest that has come in to our lives
And what are you doing to my WIFE?
You have managed to slowly infiltrate her routine
Somehow you have scrambled what she has come to know as normal practice, to make her question or forget many things she has relied on every day to get herself through life, based on established experience and instinct to survive
All of those things that she took for granted, to put together an outfit to wear, to choose a matching pair of shoes with a pair of socks of the same color, to have an unshaken knowledge of what day it is, to understand the current month and year.
The “expected” to what is all around her becomes the “unfamiliar” to those in witness…
This UNINVITED GUEST has forced me to go back to school and learn about something that I previously had no intention to ever understand in detail but now I have accepted and welcome all the available resources to be the educated guide to assist and support the transition and be ready to help my wife at all turns.
So many times we have welcomed an invited house guest and so like a gracious host we entertain this catalyst that causes a temporary momentary modification to the compound / environment, that we are aware that in time when the guest exits, normalcy will again return.
Unfortunately this UNINVITED GUEST has caused a permanent and irreversible alteration that results in an onslaught of broken hearts and coping with this intrusion inspires us to turn to the WILL OF GOD to realize and find peace and accept that this guest is not leaving.

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12

I was looking for a poem to give to carers who attend a café I run in my church for those with dementia. I came across these poems, written from deep within the heart; loss, sorrow, yearning. Yet what I also see is true love, service, and real humanity. Carers are wonderful people, driven by love and wanting to do the best they possibly can. Thank you.

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Beautiful poems

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"I talked to a lady "
This so describes the way it was with my mom. She's gone now, but she's still here, in my heart. I cannot hold her in my arms anymore, and I can't talk to her. Oh how I wish I could have one more time day with her. Just one. But one would never be enough.

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After The Visit
Guilt in heart, guilt in mind.
Thoughts that scar I've left you behind.
An hour of time of ups and downs,
Still there the familiar frowns.
You talk to me of old and new,
I listen but I haven't a clue.
I fear the day when you don't know me,
Through your eye's it's a stranger you see.
Heart full of pride for what you have done,
You've made me the man I've become.
Time so precious now for Me Jill and Mum,
Please don't forget me Dad I Love You,
Son.
To my Dad with dementia whatever tomorrow brings your still my Dad.

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15

I have just sat and wrote this, my dad's first home he was in did not give the best care...my brother and I moved him to another home, I look back and it breaks my heart, we raised money for his funeral to dementia care. I am a nurse and involve myself greatly to those who come to my unit with dementia, I,m not great a poetry but wanted to remember my dad as a strong man, my brother was amazing support but the stress to families is so much, dementia care helped me when I needed to talk, your site, thank you. I lost my brother sadly after my dad, my brother was my rock...I ve wrote this as I find it helped, not everyone out there demonstrates kindness and can treat those with dementia with so much disrespect, I will continue to support your site, thank you Claire.
DEMENTIA, my father and those that do not understand it when they care.
1. Dad
2. Carer in the nursing home.

1. I watched as he used his strength to build the fence around our garden,
2.The sounds these people make and can’t even say pardon.
1.Smiling and laughing, his eyes so bright
2.She slammed down his coffee, he stared at her with fright
1.He stood, he walked, he was so strong
2.He’s slamming his drink on the table, what’s wrong, what’s wrong
1.The sun was shining outside, a lovely day
2.Look, what is it, be quick what are you trying to say.
1.The birds were singing and as children we played
2.He looked so unhappy, so dismayed
1.The grass was cut the flowers were growing
2.He looked around, unfamiliar surroundings, not knowing
1.A cup of tea he made himself
2.He’s just getting worse, he has no health
1.He dressed himself and looked so smart
2.Looking at him, it breaks my heart
1.Off to work he would go a good job he had
2.Can’t you at least smile; you always look sad
1.A strong man who provided for us
2.All he wants is attention and fuss
1.Intelligent and alert and so proud a man
2.He quivered, his eyes wide as frightened as a little lamb
1.His laugh his smile he always was strong
2.He slops, he spills, won’t be long hopefully until he is gone
1.He died soon after with my brother and I there
1.My beautiful father, with demetia, it was so unfair
2.Dear dad I tried for people to treat you right
1.But they were blind, did not see you suffering and preferred to hide you out of sight
2.To me even now I wish I had been more aware
1.I only wish now I’d got you better care.

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13

Such touching poems bringing back memories of the Mum I lost just 6 months ago. I miss the Mum who loved and cared for me for 40+ years as much as the person who became “ Mum “ in name only, when the roles reversed. Through all the sadness ( and indeed much hilarity and madness ) we shared many funfilled days in her latter months .... and I cherish every precious day that I have the privilege of remembering. Such a cruel, cruel disease ....

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Thank you for sharing, all the poems help everyone realise it’s not just the person who is touched by the disease . Those who love and care for people living with dementia are faced with the different challenges the disease brings. Family , friends and carers are so important and are doing an amazing thing caring for their loved one with dementia.

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Hi. Lynn
They don't tell you what comes next, they say everyone is different, they don't give us a clue, you just have to wait and deal with it, just left to get on with it, or put them in a home. Don't get much help ar all, living with my friend for a year now, got drooling not swallowing agitated already on psychotics, they say desease getting worse, then another, 3months go by, then you have to shout to get something done.

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Hi Kath, it sounds like you're having a difficult time at the moment. Please do call our National Helpline team on 0300 222 1122 if you want to talk to a member of the team and get any dementia information or advice. All the best.

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Tanya's poem touched me deeply I understood her feelings so well. My mother suffered from dementia and the poem so closely expressed the relationship I had with her during her latter years. I was reduced to tears, forgotten feelings returned even after 20 years. You never forget a loved-one lost to dementia.

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My mum was diagnosed last year what a difference a year has made she no longer phones me we used to talk at least twice a day and she no longer chatting like she used to she's so quiet I miss the old mum and dread what comes next have this knot inside me all the time now

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Hi Lynn, we're so sorry to hear you're having a difficult time at the moment. Please do call our National Helpline team on 0300 222 1122 if you want any dementia information, guidance or advice. Alternatively, you might like to talk to other people affected by dementia in our online community, Talking Point. More about this here: alzheimers.org.uk/talkingpoint We hope this helps. All the best to you and your family.

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