My husband has a number of health issues. He 's still independent but needs some help getting dressed etc. I've noticed his memory has been declining for a number of years. Nothing really bad yet. He forgets some conversations or events. Sometimes he fills in the blanks with things he thinks happened but didn't. He'll remember going somewhere but not what we did there so he'll make up the details and it becomes real for him. I'll tell him about something amusing that I saw or experienced and eventually, in his memory, it becomes something he saw or experienced. Other things he remembers accurately.

It's getting worse though so I'd like to get him tested so there is a baseline for future reference, but I'm at a complete loss as to how to have that conversation with him.

He's so supremely confident and sure about the things he mis-remembers that he can convince anyone (including himself) that that's how it actually was, so I know he isn't going to take any conversation about his memory with good grace.

Does anyone have any advice?

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I had a similar situation with my mother. Her memory problems first started with her misplacing things. She would angrily claim that she absolutely put an item in a particular place and the reason she couldn't find it was because I must have moved it elsewhere.

This behavior was a very sad observance for me, because I knew her mother had developed dementia and this is what was probably beginning to happen to her.

I guess the nature of my responses to her angry accusations about me hiding her stuff is what brought out the issue of her memory problems. Out of exasperation, I just told her the truth, that the reason she couldn't locate her stuff was because her memory was failing.

Well for months and months my Mother kept accusing me of moving her things and absolutely denying she had any memory problems at all. It was so sad because my mother was such an incredibly intellgent woman and now in her 80s had been working so hard to stimulate her mind and brain thinking she could prevent the dementia that developed in my Grandmother.

At some point I talked my Mother into going to see a neurologist to get his opinion. I know she really expected him to agree with her that she had no memory problems, and prove me wrong.

At the appointment all the neurologist had to do is ask my Mothet a series of questions which I'm sure have been developed by medical experts to diagnose dementia. After asking my mother these questions he was very direct and blunt and told her she definitely had memory problems. He didn't mention the word dementia, but he did tell her that her memory problems would graduately get worse. He gave her some medication which he said might slow the progression., and told us to come back in six months.

I am embarassed to say I can't recall whether he took a brain scan or not. I guess it's getting me a lot younger than it got her.

My Mother's reaction was still somewhat disbelief. She jokingly/nervously told the neurologist that her memory was probably better than his.

But from then on my Mother didn't argue with as much as before when she lost things. And as her memory got worse, I knew she was probably realizing that she was getting dementia just like my Grandmother. TV shows were getting harder to follow, she couldn't maintain her veracious reading schedule, like a book every few days, and finally she could not master difficult crossword puzzles like she had been able to do her entire adult life. Her identity was embedded in mastering those puzzles.

The saddest day was one day in June. when she looked at me and said, " I bet by December I won't even know my name "

I'll end my response now, because the rest is still to sad for me to detail.

Plus, I think I answered your question with the part above about visiting the neurologist. That would be my advice, to try get your loved one to a neurologist. Maybe do what I did, convincing my Mother to go just to prove me wrong.

The neurogist interacted with my Mother in an extremely kind and compassionate way, but was very direct and firm in telling her the truth. From that moment on her attitude changed and her mind started opening to the reality of her problem.

Helpful Answer (13)
SandyB66 Nov 2018
So sorry to hear of your issues with this. My mother is 88, and was VERY much like yours. Extremely intelligent, AVID reader, and worked expert crosswords all the time.

She lived in Ohio and I in California. She fell two and a half years ago, fractured her neck and hit her forehead so hard that she had two huge knots there. I am sure she suffered a severe concussion. Her memories of any recent (last twenty years) happenings was gone - for example, she didn't remember 9/11, she didn't remember the house she lived in with my nephew, etc. She remembers close family, but doesn't remember certain friends or close acquaintances, until I explain it to her. She has recently started having trouble putting her words together in a sentence, as well as, remembering words.

She also says things that other people were here, and says, "that girl told me yesterday...". When "that girl" was me.

I am planning to have her doctor recommend a memory expert/neurologist.
Thank you all. Your advice is good and I'll definitely be following it. He's 70 and I'm 55 so I always knew caregiving was in my future, but I don't feel ready for it. I don't know if anyone can ever truly be ready for it.
We each have HIPPA forms signed, advance directives, healthcare POAs and wills, so that should help in the future.
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joyce78 Nov 2018
my husband just turned 77 and i will be 58 ......heading down that road with Him ...he was a mail carrier Over 25 years 400 Patrons and 100 miles and could remember every piece of mail any one got . Yesterday he could not remember that I was our Sons really Hurt... so i read ...First time to Post....Thanks for all the writings Hope it will Help Me ..I know i am not alone...
Schedule a physical. Or at least go in for your flu shot and maybe Pneumonia and maybe Shingles....
Most physicals now will include a "MME" (Mini Mental Exam) for what they are worth. They start doing this so there is a base line that they can have for the next year. If the doctor sees a reason to refer to a Neurologist or a Neuro-Psychologist he can at that point.
You could also contact the doctors office and express your concerns and the doctor could bring it up. Most doctors offices have a way to send messages, EMR Electronic Medical Records often have a section where you can communicate with the Doctor and they can either get back to you right away of on your next visit.

And no one wants their memory challenged so this can be a tough discussion. And everyone is frightened about the possibility of Alzheimer's or Dementia. I think I would prefer to get a diagnosis of Cancer than Dementia, at least there is the possibility of curing cancer but not dementia! So I completely understand him in that respect.
For you...
Talk to your doctor about what is going on, you will be under a lot of stress. You will become a full time caregiver
You will need to figure out at what point will you no longer be able to care for him. (For me it was long as it was safe for him to remain at home that is where he would stay, as long as it was safe for me to keep him home that is where he would stay.
Decide now, you can discuss this with your husband as part of general conversation, CPR: yes or no, (there is a newer form called a POLST and it goes into greater detail than a DNR) Feeding tube: yes or no, By the way this is a conversation everyone should have with the family.
You also need to find a good Support Group. This site is great but seeing and talking to people 1 time a month to vent, talk about problems is important. I always felt better when I left a meeting and my problems were not as bad as someone else. And you will need to support of people going through the same thing I can tell you now you will loose many of the friends you now have.

Side question..Is your Husband a Veteran? If so he may qualify for more help. If he is a Veteran contact a Veterans Commission Office and they can help you get the information you will need (no cost for this).

See an Elder Care Attorney and if possible do so before an "official" diagnosis. Get all your "legal stuff" taken care of POA's, Will, Trust. Once you have an "official" diagnosis it may be that your husband might not be legally able to sign documents.
Helpful Answer (6)

I started with explaining my own memory decline and we went from there.

Not all memory decline is dementia - it's called Age Related Memory Loss and the less you worry about it, the healthier you will be.
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At first, my husband refuses any testing of any kind. He just doesn’t want to be messed with. Is it possible that your husband already knows something is going on? Men are masters at false bravado.

I’ve learned not to make a big deal, heavy-duty discussion out of things. I know this scares my husband and gives him the impression I know more than he does about him. It’s a casual conversation and then I let it go for a few days. Eventually, he will agree. He’s not happy about it, but he usually goes along.
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I'd figure out a way for him to have to see his doctor (runny nose, allergies, flu shot, anything). Call ahead and tell the receptionist your concerns and ask that the doctor sneak in the question about how he's doing with his memory. Most doctor's offices will keep it confidential that you called and arranged the whole thing. Specifically ask that they do. If you and your husband don't have a HIPPA form signed (makes it possible for the doctor to talk to you about your hubby), then make sure that gets done at the doctors visit as well. It will be vital in the future if it hasn't already been done. This scenario is what we did with my FIL. He was in complete denial about his ability to pay bills, remember situations and even getting lost while driving.
Good luck!!
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I'm not sure how old your husband is, but, when my dad turned 80, his Primary doctor just did a mini evaluation in the office at a regular visit and ordered an MRI. He's pretty sharp and still handles his business affairs fine, though, he does get things confused sometimes. He passed the office test quite well and the MRI was normal. I wonder if they will do it annually, just to make sure he's okay. I think they do this, so that if the senior does have decline, they can place him on medication that might help.

I agree about sending a note or message requesting a mini eval, based on what you are observing. And, you might tell DH that checking on memory is just the thing to do as we get to be seniors.
Helpful Answer (5)

This is a very difficult issue, for sure. I am going through something similar with a family member who misplaces things, then accuses others, and often conflates past events or the experiences of others with her own 'today.' As far as the last part, I let her be, who cares if she things she is the one who visited a certain place, when it was actually someone else in the family. If a false memory helps her, I let her have this. But at some point it probably is necessary to have the memory conversation. I recomment you visit the Dementia Action Alliance website ( for lots of good suggestions and a much more positive attitude about dementia. Best of luck.
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See the post I made a minute ago, to the same person u replied to. Im suzyschilling
Don't have a discussion. Just have his family doctor to a CAT SCAN to see if any tumors r present. I supposedly lost my father to "dementia" but when the doctor did a CAT SCAN to determine if my dad had had a stroke, they discovered a brain tumor. When they were deciding whether or not to operate, they discovered tumors and lesions throughout his body. Thank God his suffering AFTER THAT was short lived. But he lived in a fog for about 5 years before his passing just about 3 years years ago. This is the third or fourth message I've posted regarding the advisement to do a CAT SCAN. PLEASE. It could save a life.
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Suzy, please read the personal message I have just sent to you.
My hubby started w similar memory problems. Had MRI by primary doc who said just shows getting older but would prescribe aricept so I said yes. I next year took him to neurologist so has slowely developed worse. 12 years now since aricept. It may have prolonged this desease as starting early on it. See if he can get in clinical trial. That is one way to get the only $20,000 scan which shows something. free so researcher told our support group. Start going to support grp. Every person is different. My hubby is very sweet but when awake I am his activity director. We cruised 9 times w his slow alzheimers. Keep living socially as long as possible. Take care of yourself as I know caregivers so stressed had death or other health problems. Always remember they live in one world that they can't change. We live in another world where we can change & learn. Stay calm & read, read & read about it. It will not overwhelm you when what you read happens like one day no longer knows you. My love to all caregivers.
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