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Quite mildy ill and pretending nothing's wrong


Registered User
May 20, 2014
:confused:I'm sorry if this has been discussed before. I'm new but have been lurking for a while. My OH was diagnosed almost 2 years ago. he takes Aricept and it's keeping him pretty well. He mislays words, isn't very good at spatial things and otherwise you might never know. Since his diagnosis we have NEVER discussed his illness. he has a good sense of humour which hasn't gone, but I notice that he is very gently getting more vague and forgetful. I am cheerful and patient, so we rub along (my Mum died 7 years ago after several years of horrible dementia so I know how really awful it can be). But has anyone else had experience of a partner who is sailing along pretending nothing is happening, and absolutely NEVER mentioning the A word ? I can imagine how frightened he must be, and how difficult it must be facing his future, or has he forgotten it all perhaps ? I know that at present just chugging on as if nothing has happened seems to be the best thing, and kindness and humour, but I feel that it's HIS secret to keep or not, so I don't tell anyone (except when it's really necessary, like his brother, or our solicitor when we made Wills etc). My adult daughters don't really notice anything, or don't want to talk about it, which is fine. I'd like to pretend it's not happening for ever but I don't expect that's possible. I think I'd just like some reassurance that this has happened to other people, and that just sailing along pretending is the best thing to do at present ?


Registered User
Apr 12, 2014
Hello Morgan,

This is such a difficult one, isn't it? What your OH is doing is using denial as a coping mechanism. In my experience, this happens when someone cannot tolerate or accept a diagnosis. It's a way to survive something very painful.

My personality would warrant me refusing to be in denial and wanting to know everything about it an to be able to fully disclose with my OH how I was feeling and my fears. But that's me.

The drawback of being in denial is that you lose the golden opportunity to gain comfort and support. You draw inside of yourself. It must be terrifying.

If it were my OH, I would probably try to broach the subject, at least try. I would offer "Love? I see you are struggling with your memory issues. I am here if you want to talk about it. I really don't want you to go through this alone. Would you want me to have to do the same if it was me? Would you want me to be alone and not talk about it? If you don't want to discuss it, I will honour your wishes. But I will not deny that I can see what is going on for you".

We can only share from our own experience. But I really hope you can find a way to bring some comfort and open up communications between you and your OH. It's a tough one when someone decides they are going to hide away from the truth.


Volunteer Moderator
Jul 14, 2006
Hello Morgan and welcome to the forum.

We all deal with dementia in different ways, just as dementia deals with our loved ones in different ways.

My husband was diagnosed with Alzheimer's at 62 years of age. He was prescribed Aricept but we chose to tell those who came into contact with him that he had dementia. As he ran his own company we felt for him to continue working for his own sanity, we had to tell his men and colleagues so they understood why at times his behaviour was way off his usual.

So for 4 years he continued to run his company with the aid of notebooks in every pocket and the support of his colleagues. He also continued to drive, being tested every 12 months.

You work your way through it as you want, there is no right or wrong way, just what is best for you and your husband.

Looking forward to you joining us and using the support and friendship of the members,



Registered User
Mar 26, 2011
Near Southampton
After my husband was told his diagnosis by the consultant psychiatrist who came to our house, we never really discussed it. He accepted it because the way it was explained to him was more of a physical thing. That is, the the vascular dementia was a complication of the peripheral artery disease he'd already had for many years and that it was not uncommon with people who had suffered from Diabetes for a long time. We didn't avoid the subject, it was just not necessary to remind him and I felt it would have been cruel to do so.

He did tell others about it though.
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Registered User
Aug 24, 2013
My wife and I never discuss her condition, that's the way she wants it so I respect that.
As you say we just sail alone like nothing's wrong, as her awareness declines she just accepts that the things I do for her are normal.
I know that if I did try and bring it up it would upset her so why bother? I am a great "head in the sand" merchant myself and stereotypically men don't need to talk about things in the same way women (again stereotypically) do, finding comfort in talking seems to be one of the areas where men and women differ.
We haven't kept it a secret, everyone knows friends, family and things, it never gets discussed and we're both happy that way.


Registered User
Apr 24, 2013
Is it possible that those who don't discuss it just don't think about it? If I never mentioned my husbands Alz then neither would he but he is quite willing to talk about aspects of his care etc if I raise the subject. I am very upfront about it just as if John had any other kind of illness. In general I find people look out for him eg the people in the paper shop, neighbours etc. increasingly I am always with him and this is less relevant but I have no intention of pretending it is not happening.


Registered User
Feb 25, 2014
South coast
Your husband may have indeed forgotten that he has dementia (I know my mum has), it depends how far along the dementia path he is.

Either way, there is no need to remind him. Sometimes mum asks me what is wrong with her and I just tell her that she has problems with her memory. Mind you, she usually then says that there is nothing wrong with her memory at all :rolleyes:

I would tell your family though - if you leave it too long then it is likely to be very distressing for them when they find out.


Registered User
Jun 4, 2013
I have mixed feelings about this.

10 years ago my mother was diagnosed with a brain tumour the size of a large tangerine. They did not know if it was cancerous or not but said that because of the size of the tumour it was unlikely that she would live more than a few months if she did not have it removed.

She refused the operation and much against my wishes, I wanted them to operate, booked a holiday to Malta instead! stating that she had had more than her 3 score years and 10 and if it was time to go, it was time to go.

She chose to ignore it. We tried to accept and waited, and waited, and waited. In the mean time my Dad developed mixed dementia, and that took centre stage.

She has now developed Alzheimers which was probably accelerated by the tumour but has not spent the last 10 years worrying about it.

Apart from taking care of practical issues I don't think there is much point in discussing it with your partner as he's better off living in the moment. If it is true denial then you won't get through anyway.

I do however think it is important that you find someone to talk to about it as living with someone with dementia is very stressful and the carer can often have more to deal with emotionally than the caree.


Registered User
May 20, 2014
Goodness you all made me cry. Thank you so much for helpfuland kindly observations, from which I see that we each need to find our own way through the maze. I think he is a real 'head in the sand' person, so maybe I won't raise the subject at present. he seems quite happy trundling along, and accepts quite without comment when I do things for him which I wouldn't have done in the past. What nice people you are; I had been nervous of 'talking' on here, not sure why, but I can see that there are wise and kind people with experience and the generosity to share it. A big thank you, and now I know how kind, thoughtful and helpful you are I'll be back.:)