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My husband doesn't recognise me

Sandy47

New member
Aug 14, 2019
7
My husband was diagnosed with alzheimers just over a year ago and one of the first changes was that he didn't always recognise me as his wife of 42 years.
Over the last year this has got progressively more common until now he doesn't recognise me most of the time and gets anxious when shown photos of me with him, denying ever have known me.
At the beginning of the year we still shared our bedroom but as he started to become more aggitated and confused when we went to bed, I decided to sleep in the spare room which I have done for the last 6 months.
I have never told him I am his carer, and he seems to believe he lives in a house with other women, some young, some older, who come in from time to time, despite the fact that I am his sole carer.
It has been suggested that to me by a close relative of his that because I act like his carer, he thinks I am and even if he did think I was his wife, I reinforce that I'm not by "pretending" to be his carer.
This has really upset me and I'm now worried that I may be the reason why he doesn't recognise me any more when he recognises everyone else. Should I try to convince him that I am his wife, even though when I have tried in the past he has got very upset and defensive?
I have always "looked after" (we never had children) so am only doing what I have done all our married life. I don't think I'm pretending anything, I'm just trying to do what is best for him in difficult circumstances but is it the right thing to do?
Has anyone else been in a similar situation, where you are the only one that your wife/husband has erased from their memory?
 

karaokePete

Registered User
Jul 23, 2017
5,455
N Ireland
Hello and welcome @Sandy47

It sounds like the relative doesn't have the first clue about dementia so don't go blaming yourself.

My wife doesn't always recognise me and often thinks there is another woman in our apartment so what is happening to you is par for the course. I too sleep in a different room now because of the disturbed nights.

Have a chat with the GP as there may be some help available there.
 

Weasell

Registered User
Oct 21, 2019
231
Go onto Wikipedia and google Capgras syndrome.
I think of mental health in the brain like this:
Imagine the way the brain transfers the messages to be like the line between power pylons.
Normally the line might have just one bird Sitting and tweeting on it.
Now imagine loads and loads of plaques and tangles piling onto the line, so many they break the line!
Imagine that in the brain.
So the conscious and sub conscious mind which normally work together, give the person different or inconsistent, or no information?
Would you expect someone with a broken leg to kick a football?
Seeing that picture helps me feel the compassion my mother needs.
 

annielou

Registered User
Sep 27, 2019
1,077
Yorkshire
I don't think you're the reason, dementia is the reason, it's not what YOU do, it's just what happens. Its not nice but it's nobodys fault.
My mum doesn't recognise me as her daughter a lot of the time. A lot of the time my mum remembers things from about 30 years ago and obviously I look nothing like that now so that doesn't help her recognise me now. She too struggles to work out who I am on photos and how they relate to her at times.
Please don't let his relative upset you, it happens in dementia and if you look round on here you'll see quite a few examples of others not being recognised by their loved ones either.
Your husband only forgetting you and remembering others could possibly be a bit of 'host mode' too if he doesn't spend as much time with other people as he does with you. They can't keep it up all the time and as you're with them most of the time it slips and you see how affected by their dementia they are. I think maybe they also think they don't need to keep it up as much with you.
When people come to visit mum, or we pass people she knows, I tend to say it's so and so, or there's so and so mum, which means mum doesn't need to remember who they are as I've told her. It seems like mum remembers who they are, but if I hadn't placed them for mum first I don't think mum would always know who people were. I don't know if you do the same. It's something I've always tended to do without thinking anyway but on some dementia care videos I've seen it actually suggests to introduce people to help them.
Please don't think you're doing something wrong, you're doing what you can to make your husband happy and life easier for him. x
 

canary

Registered User
Feb 25, 2014
12,259
South coast
It has been suggested that to me by a close relative of his that because I act like his carer, he thinks I am and even if he did think I was his wife, I reinforce that I'm not by "pretending" to be his carer.
Im afraid that when I read that I made a rude noise. So exactly how much experience of looking after someone with dementia does this relative have?
I suspect its a round number - zero. In which case you can cheerfully tell him/her to take a running jump (or maybe just say it in your head).

Not recognising a spouse/daughter/son or other main carer is so common and there isnt much you can do about it, Im afraid. You havent made it worse, its just the dementia. I think you have handled it very well.

BTW, all the different women he thinks he sees around are probably all memories of you at different ages that he thinks are recent memories.
 

Grannie G

Volunteer Moderator
Apr 3, 2006
71,142
Kent
Hello @Sandy47

It`s a sorry reality but quite common for people with dementia to become confused who is who in their lives.

At first it`s a terrible shock when a person you are with 24/7 suddenly doesn`t know who you are and I had the same reaction you have had. It`s almost insulting that someone you have shared your life with so intimately and are caring for with so much love doesn`t seem to know who you are.

In time it can be accepted for what it is, a symptom of dementia. There may be flashes of recognition from time to time and these can be treasured. It`s no one`s fault just part and parcel of the terrible confusion this illness causes.

I never tried to convince my husband I was his wife after the first desperate attempt failed miserably.

I don`t know if you`ve seen this before. It has been a great help to many.