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Any advice re not recognising me?

Ennett63

Registered User
May 11, 2015
10
Newcastle
All day yesterday E. thought I was another lady (couldn't bring myself to say on Tuesday when I asked for advice but I know it's his first wife from a marriage which finished over 40yrs ago). He was very animated all day again telling me all about our family, holiday experiences etc I just listened didn't contradict him & made lots of tea & made sure he had his anti biotics on time. Finally late afternoon we needed milk (all that tea!) & money from ATM so told him I was going to shop for no more than 20 minutes. On my return I realised he was back to recognising me as me but he wanted to know where the lady who had been with him all day had gone? When I said I don't know, made more tea etc then as I was at a loss as to what strategy to try So tried to say he must have been dreaming as I had been with him all day. My fault I know but he said I was suggesting he was crazy & became very distressed to point I thought who do I call for help? In the end I texted my brother asking him to phone & try & distract E for me to calm him down. This worked to a point as E switched off from distress talked through various topics no problem. But this changed mood didn't last as he refused dinner & went to bed very upset with me. So new day today and yet again I am this other lady has anyone any suggestions how I can manage this behaviour as I don't want the day to end with us both being upset again. E takes 25mg of Pregabalin twice a day which was prescribed to reduce extremes of agitation / anxiety. He had a SPECT scan 2 weeks ago & we see his consultant on 18th to hear if it has provided any more detail to previous diagnosis of Vascular Dementia following a stroke 6 months ago. Sorry for going on but it has helped me just to try & put into words what is going on as sometimes I doubt my memory of what goes on day to day!
 

DazeInOurLives

Registered User
Dec 10, 2009
107
East Midlands,UK
twitter.com
All day yesterday E. thought I was another lady (couldn't bring myself to say on Tuesday when I asked for advice but I know it's his first wife from a marriage which finished over 40yrs ago). He was very animated all day again telling me all about our family, holiday experiences etc I just listened didn't contradict him & made lots of tea & made sure he had his anti biotics on time. Finally late afternoon we needed milk (all that tea!) & money from ATM so told him I was going to shop for no more than 20 minutes. On my return I realised he was back to recognising me as me but he wanted to know where the lady who had been with him all day had gone? When I said I don't know, made more tea etc then as I was at a loss as to what strategy to try So tried to say he must have been dreaming as I had been with him all day. My fault I know but he said I was suggesting he was crazy & became very distressed to point I thought who do I call for help? In the end I texted my brother asking him to phone & try & distract E for me to calm him down. This worked to a point as E switched off from distress talked through various topics no problem. But this changed mood didn't last as he refused dinner & went to bed very upset with me. So new day today and yet again I am this other lady has anyone any suggestions how I can manage this behaviour as I don't want the day to end with us both being upset again. E takes 25mg of Pregabalin twice a day which was prescribed to reduce extremes of agitation / anxiety. He had a SPECT scan 2 weeks ago & we see his consultant on 18th to hear if it has provided any more detail to previous diagnosis of Vascular Dementia following a stroke 6 months ago. Sorry for going on but it has helped me just to try & put into words what is going on as sometimes I doubt my memory of what goes on day to day!
My advice is to go along with his beliefs 100%. This is obviously a really sensitive thing to do from your point of view with regards specifically who he thinks you are, but honestly it may be preferable to him feeling contradicted and hurt leading to everyone getting upset. Negative feelings can have a long lasting effect even if he does not recall the facts behind the way he is feeling.

My Dad mixed me up for my Mum and now my Mum thinks I am her at times (I don't look like her particularly). In photos, my brother is now her brother, and vice versa. When she looks in the mirror she waves to the familiar person and they wave back. I never put her right; she believes what she believes and I will go out of my way to reinforce her reality without needing to step over a line into unethical behaviour. Upsets can lasts a long time and so many can be avoided by resisting contradiction and going with it.

The Contented Dementia Trust have been an exceptionally helpful resource in helping to maintain Mum's sense of well being. She remained at home for several years longer because of the bespoke strategies they helped us put in place, which very much included going with the person's current thinking and skilfully diverting onto safe, pre-thought out topics if things became awkward. There are great techniques for doing this. Now in the care home, when things are difficult and Mum is uncooperative or upset, it is always when the staff are not using the tried and tested strategies that work so well.

I'm just sorry that your husband is sometimes mistaking you for someone you perhaps rather he didn't recall; I can really imagine how painful that feels. He may think sometimes that you are the other lady, but the reality is that she is in his distant past and it is the real you with whom he feels familiar and comfortable.

With warmest wishes,
Daze
 
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jaymor

Volunteer Moderator
Jul 14, 2006
13,023
England
I can only tell you of my way of dealing with it, it worked for us but you will probably have members say it did not work for them.

My husband lost me as his wife five yeas ago, two years before he went into his nursing home. The house he had lived in for 46 years was not his home and I started walking out of the room, waiting a few minutes and then bouncing back in all smiles and saying hello I'm back. Sometimes he would say he had wondered where I had been other times he would ask had I seen his wife. He told me I was the nice lady who looked after him while he waited for his wife.

He obviously felt safe and at ease with me or he would have wanted to go so I accepted it, it could have been much worse. When he asked where his wife was I did the, she is at the hairdressers, shopping, held up in traffic etc. which he accepted and I always followed on in suggesting we do something while we wait. Most times he was happy to be diverted but not always.

Five years on it is still the same but he greets me daily with a smile so that's good enough. I have from time to time been his mother or his sister somewhere back in his past.

I think the key to it is to just accept, very painful and heartbreaking. Like so much that we experience when caring, we have to accept because we can't change it and it is futile to try and upsetting for the one we care for.

I hope you manage, as I said, it worked for me, it may not for you.
 

canary

Registered User
Feb 25, 2014
12,678
South coast
There is no one-size-fits-all and what works for one may not work for another. If something doesnt work - try a different strategy.

My stratagy is this - Mum often doesnt know who I am and sometimes she will say "Im sorry I dont know who you are" and I can tell her and she then seems to remember who I am. Quite often, though, she thinks that I am her mother and if I try and correct her and say that I am her daughter then she gets very distressed. So, when she doesnt know who I am I will tell her, but if she thinks that I am some-one else then I just go along with it. At least she knows I am family.
I can see that it would be very hurtful for you when he thinks that you are his first wife. If he accepts you telling him that you are not her, then that is good, but if it upsets him (because dementia causes him to feel that he is always right) then you may prefer to go along with it. When he knows who you are again, but thinks there was some-one else there earlier, again, if you try and say that it was you all the time, well - he knows that he is right, so he will get upset. :(

Try saying that the other lady was looking after him while you were shopping/at the dentist/whatever and has now gone home. See if you can find a story that will stop him getting upset.
 

Kevinl

Registered User
Aug 24, 2013
4,771
Salford
It's very difficult but for the person concerned you being 2 different people is for them reality. My wife comes out of the kitchen and says she's been talking to our daughter (who's 180 miles away in London) she's actually been talking got her own reflection in the mirror, so she can't even recognise herself sometimes.
I avoid correcting anything she says, it achieves nothing as she still believes she's right even if I did convince her I was right she'd only forget the next day and I'd have to do it all again so it's easier all round to just agree and move on.
K
 

patsy56

Registered User
Jan 14, 2015
839
Fife Scotland
I have actually stopped arguing, correcting or saying anything that turns black to white and white to black....and the well I will just not say anything then (mother's words not mine). You then have to try and make conversation again.
 

WIFE

Registered User
May 23, 2014
856
WEST SUSSEX
Oh how I remember the sadness of the realisation that I was not remembered after so many years of marriage but stuck to my decision to just go along with everything my husband said and am sure it caused far less stress for both of us in the long run. I too suffered through his remembrance of first wife, old girlfriends, life before he met me, all the cars and boats he had owned through the years. A difficult time - I would have it all back in a flash. Thinking of you both WIFE
 

Ennett63

Registered User
May 11, 2015
10
Newcastle
Thanks everyone for sharing your personal experiences with loved ones & offering strategies to refocus / distract etc. E. Has had an afternoon siesta & now recognises me by name but is asking where I have been all day? I had to take our car into garage at 8 this morning as some idiot 'keyed it across 3 panels on drivers side!' so he knows I wasn't out in car all day. He seems to accept I was gardening, ironing in spare room etc & we have someone from CareLine visiting at 6.30 which will be a distraction of sorts. Trying hard to see each day as a new day but hope the 'lady' gives us both a break tomorrow she has cause enough problems!
 

pamann

Registered User
Oct 28, 2013
2,635
Kent
Hello Ennett l have had the same problem, l take my hubby out in the car most days as he is much better away from the home, when we get home has says to me, its nice to see you where have you been l haven't seen you for a long time, how can your hubby of 51yrs not know who you are, it mistifies me everyday, l just go along with it, some days l am his mother or sister, it still upsets me so much, l have have had this for a few years, l feel for you, we are not alone, take care,
 

Rucci

Registered User
May 17, 2015
1
I am glad to hear of your suggestions to Ennet63, my husband thinks of me as his Mum especially when we are together at home, I have been very unsure what to say or do but reading the comments I have now just gone along with it so as not to cause him distress. It is such a very sad illness and I just feel so helpless, I have not only lost my beloved husband but also my best friend.