Hanging in there...

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My wife of 46 years has developed what has been diagnosed as probable Alzheimer's. She has a family history of Alzheimer's so this isn't totally unexpected but that doesn't make it any easier. We watched her dad deteriorate for years and are really concerned with what the future holds. We moved to Florida about 3 years ago and were really looking forward to enjoying our retirement and it hasn't turned out like we planned. She is in the early stages and the strange thing is that I'm really the only person so far that she is having a problem with remembering. She knows who I am. She is constantly telling me how much she loves me and never wants me to leave her but she really struggles remembering anything about me. She asks me how I know her daughters. She remembers going on vacations but just doesn't remember me being with her. We have 3 daughters... she remembers them but doesn't remember that I'm their dad. Almost anywhere she's been and anything she has done in the last 47 years... I've been with her but she can't remember it. She'll ask questions, I'll answer them, she'll say that she understands but then ask the same thing again and again. If my life was a movie it would probably be called Groundhog Zone because sometimes I feel I'm living in Groundhog Day and the Twilight Zone. I'm gradually working on convincing her that we need to move back around our family and friends. I really think that it would help her and I know it would help me. Have any of you experienced being the only one forgotten while you have really always been the only one that supported your spouse? That's really the thing that I have trouble understanding. Thanks for letting me vent. It helps.

31 Comments

Will be praying for you, this is a difficult thing. Hang on I am sure someone on here will have some beneficial information. Otherwise this is a good place to vent.
I applaud you that you are still fulfilling your vows. So many times I hear of people thinking this kind of thing annuls their obligations to one another. May God bless. I think moving near family would be great support for the both of you.
Dear likeabadmovie,

I just wanted to add my support. I wonder if you can talk to a social worker and see if there are more community supports that could be accessed to support you and your wife. It is so hard for one spouse to see their life partner in this situation. If anything, I feel the more family and friends that can lend their support the better.

Please know we are here.
This must be a very heartbreaking situation. I do feel for you. It's great that you are reaching out for support. There are ways to do that online, so you can read about what others have done in similar situations. I might also try to get some other in-person support too, if time permits.

I think that if you feel you need to be near family and friends at this time, I'd consider doing it, before your wife declines further. While her wishes are valid, she may not fully appreciate the resources and support that you will need for her as she progresses. I'd have to make the call and do what you feel is right and practical.

Please post about how things are going. Do you have any help with her now?
I would say definitely get back near family and friends. It sounds as though your wife's reasoning abilities are no longer in the normal range. I haven't heard of a situation like yours, where your wife is "losing" you in her life story. That has got to be heartbreaking for you. I would start reading Oliver Sacks' books - he was a neurologist who wrote about unusual brain conditions. One book is "The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat". He also wrote Awakenings, which was made into a movie with Robin Williams.

I am so sorry you both have to go through this. {{{Hugs}}}
I am so sorry. I so agree with those above recommending you to go to family and friends. It's not all about your wife. You matter too. Honestly, it's going to get harder and you have to protect yourself by surrounding yourself--and her too--with people who love you both.
Thanks for the kind words of support. Right now it is just her and me. The rest of our family and lifelong friends are about 700 miles away and we really don't have anyone else to rely on......but right now... that's OK. We got married at 19 and been through a lot of good times and bad together so I'm not about to give up now. My wife has always had a little stubborn streak and never wanted to be told that she had to do anything. I guess that's one reason we've stayed together so long..... I've learned to let her think that she made all the decisions.... hahaha. She is still able to take care of her everyday needs...... it just the memory. I have to tread lightly in convincing her to consider moving. I do have the support of our kids.....even though it's from afar for now. I've read a lot of stories on here and I really don't have it so bad. I feel for all of you. Thanks
Bless you. It sounds like you are a patient, thoughtful husband. I agree with the above advice about moving closer to family and friends. You will need all the help and support you can get in the coming years.

As to your wife not remembering you being with her in years past ... YOU weren’t there. And by that I mean, the way you look now, YOU weren’t there. She may be remembering you the way you USED to look. Her mind may not be able to reconcile the younger you with the older you. If you show her old pictures of you with your children, on family vacations, etc., does she recognize the man in them as her husband? If so, you may have to explain (again and again) that he’s you, but you’re older now.

And, yes, you will have to answer the same questions again and again. It does get tiresome, just stay patient. While it’s the 10th time you’ve answered the question, for her it’s the first time she’s asked it. Have you read “The 36 Hour Day”? It’s a great resource for caregivers.
Farmjelly
Do you have my house bugged ? Just kidding of course but everything you said is happening. She will look at old pictures of us and ask if it is me....I tell her it is.....She says she believes me but I know that she really doesn't. She's almost obsessed with one picture of use when we were 18 and looks at it all the time. She talks about trips we have taken and when I tell her that I was with her she looks confused. I struggle with just how much I should try to get her to understand but I've never really lied to her and don't really want to start now but sometimes it seems like it would be easier to just agree with anything she says. Sundowners is starting to become more prevalent now too. Fortunately she sleeps through the night and always goes to bed before me so I do get some wind down time. I am making some progress in discussing the move. Baby steps !! Thanks for the support.
I have been a care giver since my middledaughter was 15. she developed non hodgkins lymphoma and my husband could not face it and wound up going into a psychiactric unit in a hospital. thay meant going to see my daughter in the hospital and going to see my husband. there was no one to help, now my daughter is fine and my husband is in a nh for sub acute.he is 84 and for some reason could not get homecare for him. he is on medicare and Medicaid no one is helping. this is all catching up with me, bad hip, bad back, leukemia and no one to help me.
Lieabadmovie- It doesn't sound like your wife is in the early stages of Alzheimer's. If she has forgotten her past with the most significant person in her life, I think she's somewhere in the middle stage.


My 81 y.o. mother forgot everyone, except me and my family whom she lives with, her son, and her siblings. She doesn't remember any other relative or friend, even her best friend since childhood. I showed her pictures of her from a few years ago, she has no idea where or why she was there or what she was doing. At the moment, she can take care of her own hygiene needs. Knock on wood. I hope she can keep doing it.


It's better if you move back closer to family and friends. Hopefully they will help you out. Her condition will worsen and you will not be able to help her by yourself. Don't leave the decision up to her. It helps if she agrees, but you need to be the one in charge.

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