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Not sure if it's just my imagination?
Life Partner
Posted: Sunday, December 13, 2015 11:47 AM
Joined: 12/10/2015
Posts: 1

My partner and I have been together for 35 years. During the past 12 months his short term memory loss has seemed to slowly progress. He admits he doesn't remember discussions but dismisses it as a normal progression of the aging process and nothing he is concerned with. He will be 70 in a month and perhaps he is right but I have strong feelings that this is more than just aging. I want to be proactive and be supportive if/when this is something more serious. He has forgotten entire afternoon events we've attended. I haven't asked yet but I know he will not agree to get tested for dementia so that is not an option. I would appreciate any suggestions of reading material I can obtain or suggestions on how to deal with someone who may be in denial. Thanks.
Jo C.
Posted: Sunday, December 13, 2015 4:48 PM
Joined: 12/9/2011
Posts: 13126

Hello Life Partner, and a very warm welcome to you.  I am so very sorry to hear what is happening and can understand your deep concern.

In such a situation, most of us have found that it is best to not mention dementia to our Loved One (LO) and not to mention memory issues if it will sometimes cause them to become resistive to seeing the doctor.  However; getting your LO to a doctor is important.

Since there is no diagnosis of dementia as yet, I would like to share that the memory loss may possibly be due to something else.  There are multiple conditions that can mimic dementia; thyroid imbalance, B12 deficiency; and a host of other conditions you would want to have ruled out.

If you can get an appointment to your primary MD for a full exam, this may be a good starting point.  You can write a detailed memo to the doctor outlining all the changes in memory, cognition, behavior and function and either fax it a day or two prior to the appointment or carry with with you to give to staff for the doctor to read before he goes into the exam room.  This way you do not have to talk about your LO in front of him and he can maintain a bit of his dignity.

Your LO should not go to the appointment alone as he will not be a good historian and may "fog" the exam and he further may not recall what to relate to you with accuracy.  If need be; make a fiblet and tell him it is a dual appointment for both of you.

If the doctor determines there is something neurological going on, you will want a referral to a good Neurologist to determine just  what is happening and if there is dementia, just what type is present.  There are multiple different types of dementia and treatment for one type can be contraindicated in another and make things even worse, so accuracy of diagnosis is important.

There may be plain denial; but there is also a condition termed, "anosognosia," where a person does not see what their actual problem is - no insight whatsoever.  You can Google the term and do some reading regarding that dynamic.

I also would like to give you the contact number to the Helpline at the Alzheimer's Assn. at (800) 272-3900.  If you call, please ask to speak to a Care Consultant. Consultants are highly educated Social Workers who specialize in dementia.  There is no fee for this service and they can be very helpful, supportive and have many options for problem solving as well as referral names and numbers for helpful entities in the community.

Also; I am so very glad you have found this wonderfully supportive place.  If you would like to get additional input from multiple other people, you may also want to initiate a thread on the Spouse/Partner Forum or the Caregiver's Forum.  You will then have heard from a number of people on busier Forums; you will be welcomed with open arms.

Since there is not a diagnosis as yet, reading a host of books on dementia may not be helpful; but there is one that comes recommended to folks who are new and have received such a diagnosis.  It is, "The Alzheimer's Action Plan," by Doraiswamey and Gwyther of Duke University.

Please do let us know how you are; we will be thinking of you and so hope you will be able to get your partner to good physicians.  Often we have to use a therapeutic fib to get them there, but that is okay.  Best wishes are coming your way.


Iris L.
Posted: Sunday, January 17, 2016 1:05 AM
Joined: 12/15/2011
Posts: 18061

Life Partner wrote:
I would appreciate any suggestions of reading material I can obtain or suggestions on how to deal with someone who may be in denial. Thanks.

Please read this article about anosognosia, which is a characteristic of dementia that make the patient unaware of having dementia.  Anosognosia is present in other brain diseases or brain injuries, also.   The patients may appear as though they are in denial, but this is not denial.  They truly believe that nothing is wrong.  They see no need for doctors or medications or changes in household routine.  You will have to figure out work-arounds in order to get things done. 


I am not saying that your LO has dementia, without a thorough evaluation, but if he does, anosognosia may  be something that you have to anticipate and deal with.

Iris L.