Patrick J. McTaggart Shares His Dementia Journey in Poems

By Patrick J. McTaggart, Scotland

Our Dementia JourneyIn May 2022, I published a collection of poems in the book “Our Dementia Journey,” charting my family’s experiences with dementia since my dad’s diagnosis. It included reflections from my dad’s perspective as well as the rest of the family. Writing poems started as an emotional outlet for me, writing down how I was feeling and helping me to reflect on, and better understand, certain situations. Over time, I started to think that perhaps some of the things we learned from our dementia journey may be of some small help to others on the same journey or about to start it. We as a family then took the decision to publish the book on that basis.

I had never written poems before nor had I ever written a book, the catalyst for both being the particular circumstances of my dad’s condition. In many ways that could have been the end of my writing journey.

However, on February 20th, 2023 (Dad’s birthday), I published a second collection of poems in the book “Poems for People Who Care.” The reasons why I went on to write this second book are very much related to the response to the first book.

Reaction to “Our Dementia Journey”

In publishing the first book, we felt that if it helped at least one other family it would be worth doing. We also decided to donate all author royalties from the book to Alzheimer’s Research UK, which funds research into dementia worldwide.

The response to the book after publication was, however, so much greater than was expected. In the month following publication, the story of the book and my family’s experiences were published in a local newspaper, the Alloa Advertiser, including photographs. I also posted information about the book on social media and set up a website. Just by way of example of the response:

  • People who had worked with Dad many years previously got in touch just to say hi
    and to wish him well.
  • Friends and colleagues I had known for many years but not been in contact with
    recently got in touch with me telling me they could relate to my experiences and
    telling me of their experiences having have had family members with dementia.
  • I received a lovely letter and a small gift from a lady who wrote: “Just to say thank you from my family and the wider public. Sharing part of your life
    with them in this wonderful poetry you will never know how many people this will
    have helped in their time of need.”
  • I started to receive poems from people I had never met, and from different countries sharing their very personal experiences of dementia.

For us as a family, the response was very humbling. It showed how many people cared enough about us to get in touch. It showed how people were willing to talk openly about their experiences of dementia, which has not always been the case. It showed that our experiences were resonating with many people, and, most importantly, it showed the book was helping other families, the reason for publishing it in the first place.

While going through the publication process for “Our Dementia Journey” a fellow author kindly directed me towards AlzAuthors as an organisation renowned worldwide for their collection of literature and the work they do sharing Alzheimer’s and dementia stories to light the way for others, striving to eliminate the stigma surrounding the most important disease of our generation. My family’s objectives of raising awareness of dementia and the challenges it brings families seemed very closely aligned to this. Following my being invited to membership of AlzAuthors, the book and our story received further press coverage in three different local newspapers showing the willingness of newspapers, presumably driven by their readership, to publicise the importance of dementia, finding treatments and a cure and sharing people’s experiences of it.

Collectively the above response gave me motivation to write and publish another collection of poems.

“Poems for People Who Care”

Book cover: Poems for People Who CareOn a personal level, I am a carer for my Dad who has dementia but also for my Mum who has physical ailments and no mobility. I have often pondered the differences and similarities of caring for people who have mental conditions and those who have physical conditions. I concluded that caring for loved ones, no matter what illness or condition they have, is a similar journey for all carers certainly from an emotional perspective. I decided therefore that I would publish a second collection of poems with this theme. Again, author royalties go to Alzheimer’s Research UK.

I also wanted to include poems that other people had sent me. I had experienced a positive “lift” from publishing my poems and I hoped that I could pass some of that on to those who had shared poems with me, often people who are having a very tough time on their caring journey. The response I received from them was very heartwarming, one lady writing to me that she was “beyond thrilled” as the book was about to be published.

“Poems for People Who Care” is a collection of poems aimed at and inspired by all of those on a caring journey. It highlights the journey they are on as well as celebrates what they are doing. At the same time it aims to help those on the caring journey through sharing my experiences as well as the experiences of others.

I would like to share a final thought which brings together both books. I was contacted by a Dementia Support Specialist who works for Dementia Australia. She facilitates a carer support group who sometimes use creative tasks as a form of self care. She wrote to tell me how she had bought my book “Our Dementia Journey” and read out to the group my poem “Hold on to me.” The group then went on to create a collaborative poem, each member of the group invited to write a line or more about what caring means to them. This really is a “Poem for (and by) People Who Care.

She kindly sent me the poem (and I sent her the second collection for the group) and I hope at some point to include this poem in a third book!

Purchase Poems for People Who Care

Purchase Our Dementia Journey

About the Author

Pat McTaggart, author of Our Dementia JourneyOver the last three years, I have been a full time carer to my Mum, who has a lack of mobility, and Dad (who has mixed DementiaAlzheimer’s and Vascular), living with them in their home in the Forth Valley of Scotland. It was caring for Dad that gave me the inspiration to write my first book, a collection of poems about my family’s journey with 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.The second collection is aimed at and inspired by all those on a caring journey regardless of the particular condition their loved one may have.

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.

Please check out my website which contains lots more details including reviews of my books “Our Dementia Journey”  and “Poems for People Who Care” at

Connect with Patrick








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