Patrick McTaggart Writes Poetry About Family’s Dementia Journey

By Patrick J McTaggart,  Scotland

Our Dementia Journey  is a collection of heartfelt and emotional poems about my family’s journey with dementia, including messages of hope and advice for those on the same journey.

At the same time it is an uplifting collection of poems in its own right showing the power of the human spirit to overcome challenges with faith, hope and love.

Written from the perspective of me caring for my Dad, who has dementia, and my Mum, who has other health issues, the poems take us through our family’s dementia journey and include reflections and thoughts on different aspects of the journey from the perspective of Dad, as well as the rest of the family.

Book cover, Our Dementia JourneyA series of poems also looks at the emotional challenges faced by carers who can feel all sorts of emotions, often all at the same time, and how they need to find a way of caring for their loved one while also coping and caring for themselves.

Some poems in the collection look at the impact of the Covid Pandemic and also the Dementia bigger picture in terms of the Dementia “pandemic” that the world is facing.

This collection of poems was written as a celebration of Mum and Dad and my family’s love for them.

It is my family’s strong hope that the messages in the poems help others avoid some of the pain and emotional stresses we suffered and that everyone reading the book will find at least one or two nuggets that will be helpful to them at some stage of their journey. Sharing details of our family’s life was not an easy decision to make. If it helps other families then that will make it worthwhile, and also, at the same time, raise monies for what we all want – treatments for dementia.

We decided at the outset that we wanted all author royalties from the book to go to Alzheimer’s Research UK, the world’s largest dedicated dementia research charity. They do research worldwide aimed at finding treatments and, ultimately, a cure for dementia. Raising as much money as possible for this was extremely important to us. It may not help us directly but hopefully it will help future generations.

My Story

Over the last three years I have been a full time carer to my Mum and Dad, my Dad having dementia. As a carer for Dad I know how difficult both physically and emotionally dementia can be for both the person who has it and close family, particularly those who are carers day to day. Relationships can be strained but also strengthened, and I truly believe that love conquers all. Despite the heartache, the dementia journey can still provide gifts of memories that will last forever.

Very often family carers are forced to learn as they go. My nature in times such as these leads me to dip into books by professionals with experience and knowledge of dementia to see if I can find anything to help me. Sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t. Often books can be quite long and time to research on the other hand very short. It was only by chance that I saw online some quotes about dementia and these really hit the mark with me. They were succinct and seemed to understand what I was going through.

Researching these a bit further I found that many quotes by people who either had dementia or experience of it with a family member had a clarity at both an emotional level and also in terms of giving much needed advice. They were also very easy to read and often provided simple lessons from short poems, quotes or songs.

Having never written a poem in my life,  I suddenly started writing poems, the first time being in the middle of the night. I found that they helped me by putting down on paper how I was feeling, including my emotions, and helped me better reflect on and better understand certain situations. Being a carer I find is a constant process of learning and trying to do things better.

Over time as I wrote more poems, usually early in the morning, I started to think that perhaps some of the things I learned from our dementia journey may be of some help to others on the same journey or who are about to start it. Poetry seemed to me to be a good way to provide it with fairly short poems often with a simple message. Much of the advice I have picked up over the years I wish I had received much earlier in the journey.

That is essentially how my first book Our Dementia Journey came about.

Please check out my website  which contains lots more details, including reviews of  Our Dementia Journey. I also invite readers to benefit from the power of poetry and contribute a poem for publication in a further collection of poems again to be published in aid of dementia charities.

About the Author

Pat McTaggart, author of Our Dementia JourneyOver the last three years I have been a full time carer to my Mum and Dad (who has mixed Dementia – Alzheimer’s and Vascular) living with them in their home in the Forth Valley of Scotland. Caring for Dad gave me the inspiration to write my first book, a collection of poems about my family’s journey with dementia. I was formerly an accountant and spent 25+ years as a Finance Director/CFO and most recently joint CEO within the IT and Software sectors. I have a strong interest in social enterprise and the charitable sectors and sat on the Board of two charities focused on helping young people.

Connect with Pat McTaggart

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