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Advice for the phone
So sorry, that must be so hard! I am not dealing with a spouse, but my FIL has asked to call his son who is right here in the same room. We have just played along, sent my DH in another room and called him so they could chat.
FW, it's really hard when your spouse doesn't recognize you. This had started to happen to us in the few months before acute hospitalization mid-March (and now memory care). My partner would talk to me about me, in the third person. I left her alone for an hour for a medical appointment, and while I was in the waiting room she called me as if she hadn't seen me in months, saying she had some luggage of mine in her basement and didn't know why she had it, would love to see me to catch up and return it. Twice in the week before hospitalization she told two friends on the phone that I had left her (I was sitting in the same room).
Interestingly, since in the hospital and memory care she has had no problem recognizing me, and in fact is furious with me for not getting her out of there.
Wish I had some suggestions, I don't. Empathy though, for sure. Lots of folks on the spouse forum have experienced this in varying degrees.
Even with all the beauty products in the world, I'm guessing you don't look like you did 54 years ago-- *his* mind is back there though. His FW= fantastic woman is that girl to him and he's pining for the younger you. Toss in the visual impacts of dementia (recognition memory , physical impairments) with memory loss and it adds to why he doesn't recognize the current you.
When he asks for the "old" younger you, ask him - why did you like her? Where'd did you two go? Maybe it wasn't your chicken dinner but that miniskirt he remembers so fondly.......(kidding)
It's really romantic if you think about it, for all we lose in this disease process he has his love for you tucked away in his heart.