An Interesting Mix of Confusion and Lucidity

At lunch, Kate and I had an interesting conversation. I only wish I could remember precisely what she said. I’ll do my best to capture the essence of it. It began when she asked my name. I told her and said, “I am your husband.” She was surprised and said, “You’re my husband?” I said, “Yes, did you think we were friends.” She said, “Buddies.” I told her we are buddies, but I am also her husband. Then I added that we have been married 55 years. She said, “No way.” She usually finds that hard to believe but accepts the fact that I have told her. This time she wouldn’t accept it. I mentioned it later during the meal. She still didn’t believe it.

Several times she poked fun at me and said, “I’ve been around you too long.” I found it interesting that she hadn’t remembered that we are married, and yet she retained the awareness that I often joke with her. Of course, this fits well with what I do know. People with dementia retain their memory of feelings about people, places, and things long after they have forgotten names and other specifics about them. A little later in the conversation she said something similar. She said, “You can relate to people who are different from you.” At the risk of being wrong with my own self-analysis, I would say that she is right.

Having said this, I still find it surprising when these seemingly contradictory things occur in such close proximity. On other occasions, for example, she might fail to remember that she has children and then say something about them that is true. All of these things are just further examples of how the brain’s circuitry gets scrambled for a person with dementia. That is hard for the rest of us to understand.