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Do Not Ask Me To Remember – An Alzheimer’s Poem

Alzheimer's Poem

Alzheimer’s Poem

Alzheimer’s Disease is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States.  Dealing with Alzheimer’s Disease can have grave consequences for both sufferer and for caregiver.  After dealing with his wife’s declining condition over time, Mr. Owen Darnell wrote a poignant poem that helps put things in some perspective.

Owen’s wife Esther had graduate degrees after studying at Columbia and University of Havana in Cuba.  Following her cognitive decline, Mr. Darnell had no choice but to place his wife in a nursing home, much to the chagrin of relatives.  Unless you’ve dealt with a silent killer like Alzheimer’s, most folks just don’t understand how devastating and debilitating certain forms of dementia can be. Mr. Darnell’s tribute allows us to see the disease from the other side…

Do not ask me to remember,
Don’t try to make me understand,
Let me rest and know you’re with me,
Kiss my cheek and hold my hand.
I’m confused beyond your concept,
I am sad and sick and lost.
All I know is that I need you
To be with me at all cost.
Do not lose your patience with me,
Do not scold or curse or cry.
I can’t help the way I’m acting,
Can’t be different though I try.
Just remember that I need you,
That the best of me is gone,
Please don’t fail to stand beside me,
Love me ’til my life is done.
– Owen Darnell

The Orlando Sentinel wrote a lengthy article about Mr. Darnell’s Alzheimer’s Poem that you can find here:  It’s called “Alzheimer’s Care-giver Shares Pain, Offers Help“.  The reporter (Bo Poertner of The Sentinel Staff) noted that Owen Darnell wrote a 26 page booklet called A Room Without Doors to help caregivers understand dealing with loved ones suffering with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. (We couldn’t find the booklet, but we’ll keep looking.)

Alzheimers Poem

Written By
Amie Clark

Amie has been writing about senior care products and services for the last decade. She is particularly passionate about new technologies that help improve the quality of life for seniors and their families. Seeing her parents and grandparents age made Amie ask herself, “Would this be good enough for my loved ones?” In her spare time, Amie enjoys outdoor adventures and spontaneous road trips. Learn more about Amie here


  1. Like many others I found this poem in my wife’s care home. It made me cry and the responsive poem by Owen mad e my own feelings clear. It is so difficult to put into words your own feelings of guilt nd love. I have been thinking of trying to prepare a song written round Owen’s poem in order to raise funds for Alzheimer’s Society UK but any county could benefit if successful. I read that other shave put to music and that Steve Owen says he would hope that people would use it. I will try as I have already produced a CD in memory of my wife called Care Comfort Compassion which included Own’s poem.
  2. I found this poem on Facebook last week and cried reading it.. My husband was in the memory unit of the local Texas State Veteran’s Home. He passed away last year and this would have been a blessing to have had it as part of his service. I have requested that a family member print it again for me to present it to his former caregivers where he was a resident in memory of him. I have read that it is alright to use it and would acknowledge the Arthur with it. Please let me know if I cannot copy it as I think many of the residents mates would benefit from it. Thank you for your sharing and caring.
  3. I was shown this poem by a lady whose husband suffers from Alzheimer’s like my own husband it made me remember that his actions are not deliberate and to remember to see things from his point of view.Thank you.
  4. Owen “Duke” Darnell was my Uncle, he passed away in 2005. From my childhood on, he was my hero: a merchant mariner in WWII, a sea captain for Lykes Brothers, and a jazz lover with his own weekly radio show in New Orleans. He had a deep booming voice that was often engaged in telling stories and jokes, and more love in his heart than just about anyone I’ve ever known, with the exception his younger sister Mary – my Mom who passed away last year. To all readers of this blog, or anywhere else, I believe Duke would be very happy indeed, would in fact insist, on anyone who finds strength or solace in his poem about his beloved wife, my Aunt Esther, to feel free to share it, sing it, put it up on a website, or use it in any way that might help those coping with Alzheimer’s.
    1. Hi Steven, I have just written a short book for Alzheimer patient caregivers to share my experiences and solutions during my mom’s 13 year struggle with Alzheimer’s Disease. This poem brought me strength, compassion, and perspective during my journey as caregiver and I’d like to include it on one of the pages in the front section (title page / dedication section). Would that be alright? Is this poem in public domain? Thanks, Mark Nutting
    2. Steven, be proud of Uncle Duke. Today, in Sydney Australia, I read the eulogy of an elderly friend who was afflicted with Alzheimers. I read the entire poem at the end of the eulogy and the last 4 lines were the kicker…. the family stood beside her till her life was gone. The poem described exactly what transpired. I have been asked to share it with some of the people there….so Uncle Duke lives on. Enormous respect.
  5. I read poetry once a month to patients at a nursing facility. I have been reading my own poetry and book but this week I was looking for poems from other poets to perform for the patients. I came across this one and would love to read it to them. I’m sure they will relate well.
  6. I am the Chairperson of Seychelles Alzheimer’s Foundation. I would like to ask for permission to put the poem in music. I often read the poem which was sent to me by my daughter. My husband has Alzheimer’s Disease for the past 8 years. I found this poem helps me a lot to take care of him. Thanking you in advance. Anne Church
    1. I found a copy of this poem in my lady friend’s room at the Seniors Home. After she passed away I put it to music and played it in the home for the other residents. I didn’t know the name of the poem so I called it ” Life Is Gone”. I don’t play it much anymore but I think about it all the time.
  7. This poem sounds exactly like my husband. It started with a small stroke at the base of his neck and he is gradually getting worse. Try not to get upset with some of his actions. We have been married 50 years and this is heartbreaking. Thank you for making this poem available.
  8. This poem is so right on point. Someone sent this to me because my husband had Alzheimer’s. His funeral was today and I read that poem. It is a wonderful poem.
  9. HI – I found Mr. Darnell’s poem on my mother’s refrigerator. My Dad has Alzheimer’s. I am a songwriter and would like to use it for part of a song. I’d like to use his poem for the verses, and myself for one verse, bridge and half the chorus. The first part of the chorus is an A.A. Milne quote. I’d like his permission to perform this and would love to send it to him when I’ve made a recording. Thanks. Melissa Holland
  10. We want to put this on the wall in my husband’s long term care home and need to get permission from the author. I’m hoping you can help me.
  11. I’m a caregiver in Canada and live one of the poems on your website. I believe it’s called “Alzheimer’s Request”. Do you mind if I post it on my facebook page? I’ve worked with seniors for over 40 years now as well as most of my friends. What a great website you have.
    1. Go for it Wendy – And thanks for the great feedback! We’re getting a lot of new visitors from Canada, so please let your friends know about us 🙂

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