It is rightly said, ‘At the end of the day, we’re all just walking each other home.’ Here’s a short poem about dementia, a significant disease that all neurologists encounter on a daily or weekly basis. Dementia is defined as a neurocognitive decline affecting around 1 in 10 American individuals the age of 65 and older (1). It’s anticipated that in 2050 around 131 million individuals all around the world will be suffering from this condition, an almost tripled rise from now. This condition slowly progresses up until affecting daily living and overall functioning, removing the independence of the individual (2).
This poem particularly focusses on dementia through the eyes of a caregiver. It reflects upon the mental battles and struggles faced each day by those with this condition as well as their caregivers. One of the hardest things about dementia is witnessing the one you love slowly changing and fading away. Currently affecting around 55 million people worldwide (3), it has affected the lives of many. Its impact is not only upon the life of the one suffering from the condition, but also their caregivers. As caregivers we are primarily responsible for the wellbeing of the loved one but cannot forget that we also must attend to our own. Taking upon this role, we have had to transform and navigate through life sensible to the lives of those we care for, improving and becoming the best version of ourselves and a better caregiver.
It’s a long Goodbye
It’s starting to get dark,
In your brain’s memory arc
There’s a lot that we’ve shared,
But little that you can recall.
You know it’s hidden in there somewhere,
I know, it’s hard to find it all.
Once, you walked into the streets alone,
Loving your freedom,
And got me worried all night,
Good folks found you and returned you.
Our lives are good,
When we don’t brood over
Little things, forgotten skills, confusing words.
As we helplessly meander through this hazy maze,
Every time you are propelled into the ‘I can’t remember’ life’s phase.
I watched you leaving,
In my mind you’re always with me,
In your mind I slip away
I long to have the old you by my side,
While I’m still trying to put together
All the puzzle pieces
Hoping life makes sense again,
I hope you hold onto the memories as long as you can.
We had our plans,
But life had other.
Now all those dreams are gone
We sit together,
Words from me,
Smiles from you.
Your face lights up
Your compassionate touch,
But no words...
Stealing your memories
But leaving mine!
By Zenia Aadil Elavia
Dr. DY Patil Medical College, Pune
Edited by: Sofia M Flores
(1) One in 10 older Americans has dementia. Columbia University Irving Medical Center. (2022, October 26). https://www.cuimc.columbia.edu/news/one-10-older-americans-has-dementia
(2) Arvanitakis Z, Shah RC, Bennett DA. Diagnosis and Management of Dementia: Review. JAMA.2019;322(16):1589–1599. doi:10.1001/jama.2019.4782
(3) World Health Organization. (2023, March 15). Dementia. World Health Organization. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/dementia