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The University of Southampton
Health Sciences

Connecting with Old Age: a poetic response to the conference

The ‘Connecting with Old Age' conference at the end of April was such a success that attendee Julie Sibley was inspired to write a poem:

Come learn about me: my history, my story.

Loved ones of the past surround me still,

Knowledge that I wish to hand down

(You were not the first one with a brain).

A wealth of experiences I long to share!

Of good and bad health that connect to my present day,

Of those that have cared and looked after me,

Memories of them colour my vision of you.

Don't package me according to my hair's colour or absence.

Don't put me on an island with all of my ‘kind'!


Of distorted time... dementia,

Our hyper-cognitive society sees it and therefore me as a threat.

A cursed diagnosis?  For you, not necessarily me

Perception can be worse than reality.

Different experiences with different degrees of memory loss

I see things in a different way.  Life is still life, just changes to dreams.

Don't begrudge me my dreams; they're what make me unique.

Let me share my visions of how my life will end, if I wish.

For life will end at some point.  Don't try to pretend it won't.


See me, the individual, the heart, the soul.

Only when you have walked in my shoes can you

Build a relationship with me.  Talk with me, not to me or at me,

Find out how I want to be addressed.

A proper diagnosis is deserved for all: Never ‘acopia' or ‘social admission'. 

Don't assume....

I might not complain, I might want to know about my illness,

I might not be too frail to withstand treatment

But I might be frightened.

And when you have truly connected with me, we can work together.

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