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Husband has two (or more) wives


Registered User
Aug 29, 2015
Massachusetts USA
Hello there. I am new to Talking Point. My 68 year-old husband has not yet been diagnosed, but has been having….cognitive issues…for some time. Most recently, after a trip to the UK (we live in the USA) over Christmas, he has had several episodes of believing that I am an impostor. Most of the time I can deal with this, by going along with it, but we had a sticky situation at Border Control coming back into the US when he told the agents that I wasn't really his wife.

Inevitably I have spent a lot of time on Google and have read up on Capgras Syndrome, which seems to be what we are faced with.

Do any readers have any experience of this? And are any readers living in the USA? I'm in Massachusetts, I'm British, I'm resident in France, my husband is resident in the US, and we run a business (or try to!) in France. So I've got a whole lot of complicated bureaucratic stuff to do, in a system that I don't really understand.

This is really a message in a bottle saying, Help!!! And what a relief to have somewhere to write some of this down.

My husband is seeing a neurologist this week (ostensibly for a problem of recurring cold feet), and I have got a message to this doctor to let him know what is going on. I'll let you know what happens.

My husband and I lead a very isolated life. He really doesn't want to be left alone, except when I have to leave the house to make way for his real wife :)). I am very aware of the danger of being too worried and stressed out myself to help him in the way that he needs. We have friends and family around us in Massachusetts, but I'm not quite sure how to ask for help, and what help to ask for at this stage. I'm also not sure at what stage I should include our two children (aged 26 and 21) in the discussion. They are both at university in the US at the moment. Any advice?

Grannie G

Volunteer Moderator
Apr 3, 2006
Hello Alice

My husband had Alzheimer's but there were regular times during sundowning when he insisted he had a real wife and family who would be worried about him and he insisted on going out to look for them.

Several times he commented on the fact I shouldn't share his bed because he was a married man.

These episodes passed once sundowning was over. Is it the same for you?

I wish I could help by offering constructive advice. I'm afraid all I can do is offer words of comfort.


Registered User
Aug 29, 2015
Massachusetts USA
Thank you

Thanks for getting back to me. No, there doesn't seem to be any sundowning as yet; The 'impostor' wife comes and goes on a pretty much daily basis, and the only thing I notice is that it may well come after even a little bit of stress. I am trying 'compassionate communication' but my husband, who is a bit of an intellectual, wants to know all the whys and wherefores and we have endless looping discussions about what is or is not happening.

I'm tired, and this is just the beginning….

Amy in the US

Registered User
Feb 28, 2015
Hello, Alice, I am in the States, but am American. I am sorry to hear about your husband.

The system is very complicated, and no worries about not knowing where to start. You do sound a bit overwhelmed and also as if you are trying to do everything on your own. That only works for a little while.

Sorry, I'm a bit tired, so please forgive me if this isn't terribly clear. I think you need some information and some help. My thoughts are:

-get more information from the neurologist, ideally in conversations without your husband. If you haven't already, get the neurologist to get whatever "permission" he needs from your husband; depending on the doctor, this could be an easily obtained verbal permission (let's hope). I'd get the same relationship going with the GP/primary care/internist, and any other specialists as well.

-contact the US Alzheimer's Assocation, or look on their website, and find your local chapter. They will have information about support groups, workshops, lectures, training, et cetera. Some of these will have respite available. I would try as many support groups as it takes until you find one you like.

-contact your local Senior Services office, sometimes called Area Agency on Aging or something similar. They will know about other types of resources in your area. I'm afraid these vary wildly from state to state, county to county, and city to city, so I can't even guess at what you might or might not have available where you live.

-where I live, the Area Agency on Aging also offers workshops and lectures and training for caregivers. They have been an invaluable resource for me.

-also ask about day care programs in your area. I know your husband may be resistant, but you really cannot be on duty 24/7 with no help indefinitely. Something will give, and it will probably be you or your health.

-I would also look into private carers. The AAA (Area Agency on Aging) may have recommendations or information about what to look for.

-if you haven't already, you can also look into help around the house: cleaning, cooking, outdoor work, repairs, sending out laundry, whatever. If you are going to be a full time carer, you may not always have enough time and energy to do it all yourself

-local nursing homes/assisted living facilities/places with memory care may offer support groups, day care, and/or respite. You may have to contact each one individually, to see what they offer (at least, there is no clearinghouse for this information in my area). I know many people are reluctant to look into respite, but just for the sake of argument, if you were to have a health emergency and have to go into hospital, who would care for your husband?

The Alzheimer's group and the AAA should also be able to offer you advice, at least generally, about legal and financial issues. If you have not yet sorted out wills, durable Power of Attorney, and a Power of Attorney for Health Care (formerly called Living Wills in many US states), you need to get on that. A good attorney can help, even in a complicated situation.

The question about how much to involve your adult children is a tough one and probably each family has to find their own answer.

For general information about dementia and symptoms and behaviour, there is lots of good information on both the US and UK Alzheimer's websites, so I would start there. There's also a million books and lots of stuff online, when you have time and if you're so inclined. I also learn a lot just from lurking on TP and reading current and older threads in all the forums.

The standard advice here on TP is to get help in before you think you need it. This is because 1) it's easier to get the person with dementia to accept help if you do it from the beginning and 2) if you wait until you need it, it may be harder to do, from a time/energy/crisis standpoint. But you can also wait for a crisis, and implement changes then. It's hard to say.

I'm sorry, that's probably not nearly enough information, but I hope it's a place to start.

Please feel free to ask questions or let me know if I can try to be of more help locating resources in your area.

Best wishes to you and your family.


Registered User
Aug 29, 2015
Massachusetts USA
Capgras - the other wife

Thank you for all the helpful advice. I am finding the Capgras stuff, where my husband thinks I'm an impostor, extremely difficult to deal with on a daily basis. Last night I found myself going for a walk around the block (17°F here in Massachusetts) so that his wife could come home. Which she did, but she was very cold :)).

I'm afraid I had a bit of a meltdown this morning with my husband. We (try to) run a business together - a seasonal rental complex in Provence, just to complicate things further - and he told me I was taking my eye off the ball. Which I am, for obvious reasons. But I lashed out at him, and burst into tears, and I shouldn't have, and I couldn't find the strength to be calm and compassionate.

I should say we had a turbulent relationship before the onset of dementia, and in some ways my husband is much sweeter and more loving now than he has been in the past. He is, for instance, very concerned about the well-being of the 'other woman' when she goes wandering off into the snow.

He saw the neurologist yesterday and while we did have a serious talk afterwards, we were soon back in LaLaland. He is terrified, and has never been particularly pro-active with regards to his health, and would clearly rather pretend it's not happening. I can go along with that as much as I can, but in order to do so, I need to do some basic maintenance on myself. I don't get the opportunity, much, because I am with him pretty much 24/7.

Bit of a rant here, and I really don't know enough yet to reply to other posts with sane advice, but I'm asking for it myself.

Many thanks to you all