I Can’t Help It – A poem

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A happy couple sitting together on an outdoor swing

A couple who use Dementia Australia’s services recently shared a poem to help communicate some of the challenges of living with dementia.

I was an aircraft instrument maker for 45 years and a watchmaker on the side. I have been married for 54 years, have two sons, five grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

I retired to the Eyre Peninsula 18 years ago. I enjoyed fishing, bowling, helping in the community, gardening, traveling, computers, photography and reading.

Where has that person gone?

I don’t understand why my bowls mates have become strangers to me. You think I’m strange. I think they’re stranger.

I live at home and sometimes I would love mates to pop in, but maybe they have forgotten where I live. Sometimes I can’t do things around the house and could do with a hand from a mate.

I can’t help it that my mower won’t start. I would love someone to come and say, “Do you need a hand, mate?”

I can’t help it that I can’t turn on the television. I can turn it off at the wall.

I can’t help it that when I work in the garden, I pull out the plants and leave the weeds behind.

I can’t help it that my mates are the plumbers and electricians now. They understand when I break things.

I can’t help it that I forget what I want to say. My words come out back to front.

I can’t help it that I lock my wife out of the house all the time. She is to blame for all of this.

I can’t help it that I forget what to do when I am in the middle of a project.

I can’t help it that I can’t drive anymore. You hand your license in at 80-years-old.

I can’t help it that my camera won’t work. I used to be able to overhaul it. But they don’t make them like they used to.

I can’t help it that I can’t read books or do puzzles now. Sometimes I just cannot understand what’s going on at all. I am always confused. I love my wife’s friends as they treat me normally.

I can’t help it that my wife gets me out of bed each day, makes sure I am showered, lays out my clothes and coaxes me to do projects.

Sometimes I go to bed in my clothes because I forget I have pyjamas. Boots are a problem too. I forget to take them off.

Computer – is that the square thing sitting on the desk over there?

I have dementia. I can’t help it.