In The Care Home

In the Care Home

They visit me often
These people,
With their stiletto eyes
And brittle bright voices
That speak too fast.
I sit here
Under the waterfall of their words
And I wonder, “What’s for tea?”

They visit and I sit
In my chair,
Watch their fidgeting hands
See shadows dull their eyes
While their mouths smile,
Kiss my cheek.
Handing me photographs to look at.
I ask, “When will it be tea?”

I look at their pictures,
Names, places,
That float just out of reach
And because they’re hoping,
I nod and smile.
Who are they?
Groping to understand why they’ve come.
And I wonder, “What’s for tea?”


    It is hard to imagine what suffering from senile dementia must be like. However, after my brain surgery, it took a little while for my brain to start functioning normally and I am guessing it might be similar to having dementia. Whilst I could read people’s moods, sometimes they spoke too quickly for me to keep up with what they were saying. My family kindly didn’t inform me until later how often I repeated conversations, but I could read in their expressions that I was doing something wrong. There were things that I knew but they were out of reach, I couldn’t bring them to mind. Watching television involved too much light and sound, too much stimulus. Everything was difficult because nothing was automatic. Even having a shower was a challenge because I would be drying and then realise that I had forgotten I had shampooed my hair and had never rinsed it off. To not rely on one’s brain was very disorientating. The only thing that was easy was eating! To have a simple, concrete event where I knew exactly what to do, felt some control and independence, was very important.

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