My wife, or me? Do we have dementia or is it marital disharmony?

2 answers | Last updated: Sep 13, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

One us us may becoming demented. Is anyone else wondering this at times? Marital dysharmony I am 76 and she is 59. Married 27 years. Both Christians. She refuses mariage councilling. I still do all the household financial business and half the housework. I do half the grocery shopping. She cooks a meal occasionally, but shops a lots, stays on Facebook, and says I need to get "my stuff" straightened out. (don't know what she means and she won't elaborate). I was placed on small dose of Aricept 6 months ago by my MD for my mild forgettfullness. I see a professional councillor

Expert Answers

Carolyn Rosenblatt, R.N. and Attorney is the author of author of The Boomer's Guide to Aging Parents. She has over 40 years of combined experience in her two professions. As a nurse, she has extensive experience with geriatrics, chronic illness, pain management, dementias, disability, family dynamics, and death and dying. As a trial attorney, she advocated for for the rights of injured individuals and neglected elders. She is also co-founder of

You ask if you or your wife have dementia or marital disharmony. No one can diagnose you by email of course, but the real issue seems to be in getting along with each other. If your wife has expressed that she thinks you need to get "your stuff" straightened out, it is an issue for her. If she is unable to elaborate, the two of you need help to explore this issue more. If you are already seeing a professional counselor, that is a great place to start. I suggest that you ask your counselor about the best way to bring up your wife's concerns with her. Perhaps she will consider coming to a session with you if your counselor is willing to discuss the issue with both of you present. However, not all counselors do what is called "couple's work", so be sure it's ok. If not, ask for a referral to someone who does do "couples work". You can suggest that to your wife. If she refuses to go, you will have to continue to do the work you are doing without her participation. Your current counselor, who already knows you, is perhaps in a position to guide you to your choices.
Another thought is that mild forgetfulness is a sign of trouble ahead. Many people who have this problem find that it does get worse over time. Aricept cannot stop the progress of memory loss and may only provide some temporary improvement in a percentage of people who take this medication. It does not cure memory loss. In the event that your memory loss is getting worse with time, you need to also address your legal planning, your healthcare planning and your future while you are able to keep track of these matters. Please do not wait. I wish you the best.

Community Answers

Geneg answered...

While counseling, joint doctor consultations and providing nearly all of the services a couple usually shares, nothing will alter dementia's damaging march in an opposite direction. Not even medication will return spousal communication to a healthy state. I learned to adjust my expectations, focus on understanding my husband's condition (Dementia - Alzheimer's), especially when he uses familiar arguments/tones that falsely reflect his true feelings. Marital disharmony? A term for a mentally healthy couple. Life is a raging river without a rhythm once known as a mountain stream.