" A couple who use Dementia Australia’s services recently shared a poem to help communicate some of the challenges of living with dementia. "
I Can’t Help It – A poem

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.

 Posted: October 14th, 2019
Discussion

sharon fraietta said:

Thankyou so much for sharing your journey in this way. Keep going.

Lucy van Kessel said:

How courageous, helpful and inspiring. It will certainly assist me in caring for others.

Marion Cohen said:

Very poignant and so true. For the person with dementia it must be like living in a fog - whichever way you turn could bring disaster.

Jo Grigg said:

That is lovely and so sad, especially when the friends fall away.

Helen said:

Beautifully written, sad to read. The truth is not kind. Thank you for sharing this with us so that we can try to understand.

Vicki White said:

So beautifully written from the heart.

Unis Goh said:

This is real living experiences of the person who have the dementia. “I can’t help it” is the daily encounter with living with dementia. I try to tell him “this is ok, I can help you, if you like!”

Brian said:

So true for a few of my clients, unfortunately.

Kaye Wright said:

Your dignity and authenticity shines through. Thank you. Kaye

Lorraine Coleman said:

Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings. I hope that some of your bowling friends read this and find their way to see you.

Kerryn said:

What a lovely little poem, and I bet that your friends and family just can’t help loving you and doing what ever they can to keep you happy and safe. When my beautiful precious muma used to apologise for things I knew she couldn’t help, I would always tell her, it doesn’t matter cause that’s what I’m here for, I’m here to help.

Sally Henry said:

I will share this with my Dementia Carers Group, thanks you for sharing this poem.

Jose Verhoeven said:

Love it. Yes, you know who your friends are.My darling can not use the phone. He used to be a great cook. Now he comes to help when I am ready to serve. He washes up in cold water. Where has my darling gone. I miss him and it worries me. If I don't wake up in the morning, he won't know what to do. People just do not understand.

Pam O'Sullivan said:

Beautiful and captures the real feelings of a person living with dementia. Sounds just like my Dad in his early stages of Lewy Body Dementia, especially the confusion and the inability to do things that he and all of took for granted.

Barry Baulch said:

Most wonderful thing I have read in a long time and bought a tear to my eye, as l lost my wife only a few weeks ago and she had said some of these same words recently. Thankyou for sharing

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