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My husband's family has a history of dementia. His grandmother, a great-aunt, and an uncle all had it and his mother just moved into full-time dementia care after 3 years of home care. For his mother and grandmother the dementia appeared very late, in their 90s. I am not sure about the onset for the other two family members except that the uncle's onset was much earlier. My husband and I are in our 50s and we've known each other for 20 years. He is fit and healthy with no addiction concerns.


He's never been good with time, not knowing if something happened a couple months ago or a couple years ago. We have started bumping heads over his lying about me (just to me, not to other people). There are 3 instances I can point to.


He is lactose intolerant. He drinks dairy-substitutes and I keep lactose-free milk for myself so I can use it cooking for him. I am not and have never been lactose intolerant. Occasionally he'll suggest I have a Lact-Aid pill with food, since it might have milk. He is convinced that I am occasionally bothered by dairy and that I have told him that before. I have never, never said that and I have no problem with dairy. He says I've told him before that I am bothered by dairy and often gets upset with me that I am always changing what I tell him I like and dislike from day to day. It is also one of the few instances where I can say with 100% certainty that I have never claimed to be sensitive to dairy. Other similar arguments on different topics have been making me question myself.


A few days ago he was making us dinner and was very angry with me about one of the potatoes being rotten. He accused me of putting a rotten potato in with the good potatoes to ruin them. I questioned his accusation and he said that it was "just like me" to do something like that. I got very angry and told him in no uncertain terms that I did no such thing. I don't even know where I was supposed to have gotten a rotten potato from! Later that evening he did apologize, which is extremely rare for him to do, but I was angrier than he's seen me since the cell phone problem below.


The worst and one of the earliest issues that scared me needs a bit of history first. He hates cell-phones, and we did not own one until about 4 years ago. I finally got one as a gift from my sister, but before I got it, he and I talked and agreed that we didn't want his family to know we had one because he didn't want them to be able to call while we were away from home. Especially his mom, who was not showing signs of dementia yet, but has always been quite clingy. I agreed completely with not sharing with them that I had a cell phone since I didn't want to have to field phone calls from them (we've always agreed that I "do" my family and he "does" his). About a year later, we had a big argument (we don't argue often). In the end he accused me of spending an entire visit at his mother's "playing on my cell phone". The problem is, whenever we'd been at her house it was on "do not disturb" and hidden in my purse. There was never a chance for her to ever see it or hear it or even suspect it existed. I never took it out of my purse while we were there. I know he's opposed to cell phones in general so I never "play" on it around him at all and keep it on silent when he's around. I have no idea where that came from or why he'd say such a thing. It was as outlandish and unrealistic as saying I ran in and punched his mother in the nose!


I really don't know what to think or what to do. I am hurt, scared, and frustrated at the entirely false and unrealistic accusations from him and I'm worried that they are increasing in frequency.

Hi, Katie.

You sound very worried about your husband. Have you shared with him that you are worried?

When was his last complete physical? Are you in touch with his doctor (like maybe you have the same doctor)?

If I was in your shoes, I'd be in touch with his doc and give him a short version if what you've told us. It sounds as though he is having instances of mis-remembering things, or false memories.

I wouldn't necessarily jump to a dementia dx, but I would talk to his doctor about it.
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KatieWorry Aug 29, 2020
Thank you very much for your reply. I am very worried about him. It has been years since his last physical. Partly because he's convinced he's healthy, and he otherwise is, and partly because where we live there is a dearth of physicians and it is almost impossible to find one taking on new patients. Our previous doctor moved away without notice and we've been without for quite a while now. I'll see to it I find us a doctor and get him to a physical.

Thank you, also, for your earlier reply and the link as well. I'll take a look at it.
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Time now to keep a diary. Sorry to say that, as it will cause you to "watch" for things, and perhaps to take things too seriously. But it is time to do so.
You could be looking at other stressors, to tell the truth. His own aging, what he is seeing with family that is aging, any job changes or life changes. It could be something else to do with anxiety that is being kept in. It could be depression due to covid-19 shut in?
I have a question. When you speak of any of this calmly, sitting down with him, is he very upset, very much in denial? That would be a que that he himself may be noting changes that are scaring him.
I would, as I said, keep a diary of sorts. Just a date and an incident. You will know soon enough. This could be what you fear, but it could be also a general depression and anxiety. Wait and see is easy enough to say, and oh so hard to do. I am wishing you luck and hoping you will update us. If there is a way for you to join any dementia forums, such a groups on FB that are private, and if he doesn't meddle with your computer sites, do so. You will get a world of info. If you get questioned if he finds something say you were worrying about yourself, about your family, and that you feared you were having, YOURSELF, episodes of forgetfulness such as when and how much you used your cell phone. I agree, it is by far the most disturbing of the instances. But he could be very threatened that you are moving into the 21st century and he doesn't want to "go there". Watch and wait. You will know soon enough.
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Katieworry, I was just kidding about don’t buy any food. I thought what MAYDAY said was absurd. Please consult his doctor. Hopefully you are his healthcare proxy so you can talk to his doctor.
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If this is a new pattern for him, then it does sound like early dementia. You just can’t argue with a dementia patient, because their version of reality is very different from that of the rest of us.
I hope you are able to find a doctor for him to go to nearby, to get a definitive diagnosis (vs online opinions). If you are able and interested, reading books about Alzheimer’s/Dementia may be very helpful. I’m currently reading “I Will Never Forget”, about a daughter dealing with her mom’s dementia, and it’s been very helpful. This site is a great resource too, of finding others in the same boat.
My heart goes out to you, for the difficult journey ahead.
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Dear KatieWorry,
I believe I can share some good advice with you on this subject. A little on how I came upon these opinions. One of my favorite hobbies was public speaking. I watched my maternal uncle who was a Catholic Priest die of ALZ in his late 70's, I have always been a spitting image of him. My Stepfather slowly died of ALZ in his late 80's. I watched them bot deny-deny-deny, that they had memory issues. When I was 35 I began volunteering to do public speaking for a fraternal organization I am a member of.
When I first began my public speaking roles, I easliy soaked up the parts in to my memory. Public Speaking was a gift to me and over the years,, I learned more and more parts and I had a ball traveling around the state in which I live and Ii was mentored along the way by some of the best performers in our organization. Now, go forward 17 years and one of my parts changed and I could not learn the new script, this was in 2011
. I approached one of my doctors about the problem and he asked was I usiing my CPAP everynight. I never slept without it during the 16 yrs I was using it. I was also told it probably had something to do with all of the responsibility of managing the life of a Special Needs child which came in to the live of my DW and I when I was 48. I spoke to a couple of more doctors and they attributed my problem to all the same issues. Go forward 5 years after 38 yrs of my career, i was fired from my job in February of 2016. Finally, my Neuro doctor said, Wow, we've got to dig deep on this and she prescribed an MRI and a Neuro-Psych Eval. Four months after the MRI, we had the Neuro-Psych results which indicated a diagnosis of Early Onset ALZ one month before my 57th birthday, that was four years ago. Test results showed I was in the lowest 1% of all men my age in terms of the test results.
I can't tell you how relieved I was when I received the diagnosis. I started doing a lot of reseach and reading on Aging Care. A bit of advice I discovered was OK, I am never going to be cured from this disease and I retained an attorney to help me through the process of Social Security Disability. I was told by my doctor, I would not be being fair to an employer or my customers if I tried to continue working. The lawyer I retained worked for SSI as an Attorney for many years and retired in to his own law practice to help people be approved for SS Disability. I received my first check 52 days after the paperwork was filed.
I have made it my mission to share as much of my journey as possible here on Aging Care. I encourage any family members or readers of Aging Care to not be afraid and push your doctors to investigate any memory issues your think you might have.
Now, it has been 9 years since I first noticed I was having memory loss. My Neuro doctor tells me, I am the first patient that ever gave up their Drivers License Voluntarily without being told they should hang up the keys. I have had the same Neuro Dr. for 15 years and I brought up the subject of driving when I was first diagnosed. Every appointment we had over the last 4 years, she did a thorough exam and she said she was comfortable with me continuing to drive. Nothing untoward happened, no tickets, no accidents. I just felt uncomfortable driving and hung up the keys. Yes, it has added more to the load my DW has to carry, but she supports me and is accepting of the new role in our lives for both of us. We've been together for 26 years dating and married 24 of those years. We've never had an argument in all these years. I accept when I'm told I've forgotten something. I have been blessed with the most wonderful wife, and with our three children two of whom are adults, one a teenager.
I encourage spouses, children and those that think something may be wrong with your memory to stand up for yourself. We must be our own best advocates. I have made my instructions clear orally and legally to my family and doctors.
Good Luck.
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CarolLynn Sep 1, 2020
AMAZING !!! I hope you are able to continue maintaining your behavior as such - - most memory loss folks really believe they're fine.

Just in case, may I suggest that you make a video recording OF yourself, speaking TO yourself, so that later, should you slip into disagreement with your family, they can play it for you - - you might recognize and listen to yourself. Just an idea...
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Conflation, confabulation, and/or fabrication - - individually or in any combination - - are often indicators of status change in the brain. And it doesn't necessarily mean dementia of the Alzheimer's type; it could be a nutritional deficiency, TIAs, mini-strokes, etc etc - - things that could be corrected early on, unlike brain changes that bring on irreversible memory loss.

Which is why medical evaluation should be sought whenever there is a noticeable deviation in behavior. Best to find out what you're dealing with diagnostically, the sooner, the better.
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DrBenshir Sep 2, 2020
Alcohol, late effects of TBI, reaction to OTC medications, bi-polar or other mental health conditions that he is able to control up to a point, and many other health issues (such as Lyme), cerebral vasculature disorders or brain lesions can all cause signs of dementia. Even hearing loss and vision changes can mimic dementia, and are easily diagnosed and treated. Medical evaluation for both of you with brain imaging is a necessary first step. I got my DH to do a virtual physical with me, and we were able to see the brain changes caused by multiple concussions.
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Just because it looks like the ducks most of us are dealing with here doesn’t necessarily mean it’s our duck and whatever the issue in my experience it’s going to be far easier to get DH (dear hubby) cooperation if you aren’t approaching it as the almighty dementia I’m sure he fears. I was diagnosed with Lyme in my 40’s, though based on my tests and symptoms according to the experts I had probably had it for a minimum of 10 years. My sense of time was and still is to a degree very bad but also very real to me. However more to the point I had been having episodes of flying off the handle, I mean extreme reaction to minor things at times. I can even remember being in the midst of one of these “fights” that I would pick with my DH and thinking to myself why am I overreacting so much but I still couldn’t control it, it was scary sometimes but whatever the subject was it was so real to me and I truly felt right in my view or wronged as the case might be so even after coming down from the emotional rage I didn’t apologize. Later after finally getting to a knowledgeable doctor and some treatment my DH and I were meeting with the specialist who asked if I had any episodes like this, do I fly off the handle? My husband and I looked at each other, I had never even thought to associate these fights to Lyme but without either of us even mentioning these the doctor was describing my behavior exactly, Lyme Rage he said and very common with this disease. Knowing where it came from and that I had no real control over it helped us both so much! I wasn’t afraid of myself anymore and he didn’t take it as personally or fight back which Had just added fuel to my fire.

Im not suggesting your husband has Lyme (though you never know) but I am suggesting that there is every possibility that something is going on other than dementia, something that can be treated and needs to be treated before it creates havoc elsewhere. It’s very easy for all of us, doctors as well to get tunnel vision when it comes to medical symptoms because it’s natural to see what you know. Your DH like you may have a heightened awareness of dementia and live in fear of it based on his family history or his perceived family history and denial is a powerful coping tool so finding ways that feel less threatening to explore any possible medical issues might be the way to make that happen. I wouldn’t focus on his outbursts or his apparent attempts to “gaslight” you, I wouldn’t even mention his possible cognitive issues if you can help it but maybe getting his primary to recommend a neuropsych eval simply to get a baseline or so DH can “prove” his memory is fine if it comes to that. By life insurance to create the need for a full physical if need be or get someone, your child maybe, to ask if you have BOTH had physicals recently and urge you to do so, not because something is wrong but because they have a friend who’s parent just dropped dead of something that could have been prevented if caught early enough...be inventive about it and put your money where your mouth is so to speak by getting the full gammet yourself.

I also urge you to step back when he comes up with these things and try not to react to it as the personal attack it feels like, whatever is going on it’s more likely that he really believes what he is saying/thinking and is incapable at that moment of being convinced otherwise so don’t escalate both of you by trying. Granted I don’t always trust my memory but there are times my DH will suggest “someone”, meaning me, moved or lost something and I just agree (especially when it sounds stupid) and laugh “must have been me, I have no idea what I did with it” sometimes with a hint of sarcasm “your right it makes much more sense that I added a rotten potato to the bunch than one of them rotted on their own, sorry”. Wind out of his sails and a giggle for you.

Maybe it’s dementia and maybe it isn’t but all is not lost, there are proactive actions and reactions to help. withU
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Sendhelp Sep 1, 2020
Thanks Lymie,
That was so helpful to me.
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anything else happen within this time period?
Verbal abuse is just as bad as physical abuse... If he is getting more abusive in any form, you may want to consult your doctor, and his..
Jumping through hoops to keep him calm is not a solution.. find help. others will post now too.
take care.
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CrushedLove18 Sep 1, 2020
My thoughts too. 😕 (Sadly)
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First of all, ignore the more obvious posting like those from MayDay - many of these people either don't fully read or comprehend what the problem is. There are even some on the forum who just post some bizarre things!

Many have suggested this is dementia. Giving a name to the symptoms (confabulation) is fine, but what is needed is to know what the cause underlying this confabulation is. Clearly there IS something, but we would all be remiss in not directing you to get medical help.

We can guess, give examples and confirm all we want, but there are MANY conditions which can mimic the symptoms of dementia. What you should aim for is a THOROUGH exam, which may include referrals to specialists, to rule out any other cause before assuming dementia.

One time on my way to work, I called my mother. She was in a very confused and unhappy state, so I stopped there first. We ended up at the ER and then admitted, as her potassium (and likely other) levels were too low. In her case, she was drinking too MANY fluids. Once restored, she returned to her usual nasty self!

I understand you currently don't have a doctor and have limited choices. Perhaps you could start with your insurance company - often they have listing of those who honor your plan AND are accepting new patients. Document all these issues so that you can present them to the doctor. He may resist going, insisting he is healthy and doesn't need to go. Try to work around that, perhaps by saying the insurance requires a recent checkup. Make appt for yourself as well, so you can "support" the claim that everyone needs to do this.

This link has a brief overview of confabulation, lists SOME potential causes and has suggestions for how to respond to the "stories" or beliefs of those who are beleaguered by them.

https://www.verywellhealth.com/responding-to-confabulation-in-dementia-97969

This link is just FYI.

A thorough exam, including bloodwork AND urine test (UTIs can cause so many bizarre symptoms in people!) If all seems to be in order, the doctor should include tests like MRIs and potential follow up with specialists. Not all doctors are worth the paper their degrees are printed on - if you don't feel comfortable with the one you see, find another! If the doctor dismisses your concerns, find another! Even if you have to go some distance to find the right doc, do it.

While I certainly wouldn't assume he has any form of dementia, it is a possibility. Getting to the bottom of his odd behavior is important (not all types of dementia are hereditary. None of mom's or dad's siblings had dementia. I know of no one in extended family who had any form of dementia. She is the only one left now of her generation and developed this when over 90, so most likely her case is vascular, because she has high BP (has taken meds for YEARS!) IF they can get to the bottom of his odd behavior, it will at the very least be a little relief, but make sure you learn all you can about whatever the cause is, esp if they don't provide any info or point you to where to get assistance.

Hoping for both of you that this is NOT dementia and might be something that is fully treatable! Meanwhile, go with the flow when he makes these outrageous statements. Stay as calm as you can. It isn't worth fighting about it and it won't help at all!
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Before I even gave it a thought my husband could have dementia, suddenly our marriage to loving, kind, wonderful, to argumentative, never satisfied with what I cooked or did, I was at a point I wanted to leave. I started to think what would I do alone, I never lived alone, ever except when he was in Vietnam. I started thinking of getting my own car, find an apartment, where should I go, etc.
BUT, I JUST SAT DOWN AND TRIED TO FIGURE OUT--what should I do??? I cried, he cried, can't take it any more, on and on, every few days or weeks.

THEN it hit me--For Better or Worse. I suddenly realized, see a doctor. I made a list of things he does, I took this list to his regular 3 month checkup and doctor referred him to a neurologist . Tests, revealed nothing, slight vascular area, but good. Then as a year or so went on, still arguing but not as much, I changed his doctors and did the same thing, list of actions. Now, brain scans, and yes dementia causing these outbursts. From then he was a pussycat, and had low dose medication. Also, as others in this forum said, have him tested for UTI, as this can cause the behavior you describe. Hope this helps.
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