This seems to be the first question I'm asked when I tell them my DH has dementia (we think it's most accurately described as vascular dementia). In the beginning I said "of course!" because he obviously did for several years after his diagnosis. Then there would be a moment here and there where he would look right through me and say "where's my wife?" These didn't last long, but over the next couple of years became more and more frequent. (I would always say "I'm right here !" and throw my arms around him and kiss him and tell him I loved him. It might not pass right away, but it would pass eventually.) Or we'd be sitting watching TV and he'd call out my name. I'd just get up in front of him & kiss him & tell him "I'm right here". His "recognition" of me crumbled just a little at a time--there was never that "dreaded moment" when he stopped knowing me altogether. Fast forward eight years: We have several in-home caregivers. Sometimes he calls me or them by name, but far more often he does not, or he may call us by each other's names, or he will call us all different names, some I recognize from the past and some are people I've never heard of (the caregivers will say "who is Philip" and I'll say "I have no idea"). He refers to all of us, male and female, as "he". Or he'll tell me I'm beautiful and stroke my arm, and the next minute he's telling the caregiver she (or he!) is beautiful and stroking his/her arm... But he'll be napping, and I'll crawl up in his hospital bed & put my arms around him and kiss him and nuzzle him, and he'll put his arms around me and say "I love it when you kiss me." So, does he know me? The caregivers say he acts differently around me but of course I don't see him when he's alone with them, and I don't think any of them are jumping up in his bed and kissing and nuzzling and saying sweet nothings to him (!). I choose to believe that he not only knows me, he absolutely loves and trusts me, and when he holds hands with his caregivers (who all love him, by the way) it is an extension of the love and trust he and I have shared for over 43 years. P.S. when I tell him we've been married for over 40 years, he gets a big grin on his face and laughs and says "Really????"

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That's a lovely story, superstring.

I think we get that question a lot because it is one of the fears associated with dementia and perhaps also because it seems a more polite topic than incontinence or swallowing problems. I is also associated with memory and many people think of dementia as mainly a memory disease.

I got the question a lot, too. Losing recognition of familiar faces is not typical of Lewy Body, and my husband knew everyone to the very end. He didn't remember the names of the hospice nurses but he knew who they were and why they were there.

My mother's dementia was not ALZ, and she too retained her ability to recognize people throughout the disease.

It depends which areas of the brain are damaged. I know it is common in ALZ.

What have the experiences of caregivers of persons with non-ALZ dementia been?
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That's sweet Superstring! Yes, people ask but like you I find that the answer is complicated. I'm not sure if my mother knows me.... I've been told she calls my name but I don't know if she really connects the name with me or if she understands that I am her daughter. I do think when I'm there she knows I'm not just another caregiver though, and that she is comforted by my visits - and that's enough for me.
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