I first married in 1951, to Kathleen, my wife for nearly 40 years. We had a delightful first 30 years approx. when little (!) oddities started to occur. Particularly memorable are an incident when she attempted to park the car in an impossibly narrow space, with resultant considerable damage to our and adjoining cars.
Then she was charged with shoplifting, found guilty and fined – but conditional upon psychiatric assessment. No need to steal; we were financially secure, and I kept an ample supply of the stolen item (gin!) in the house. I was not informed of any diagnosis.
Things steadily got worse until I reached the stage where I dreaded going home from work. On one occasion I arrived home to find that she had been house decorating. She had placed a chair in the bath to reach an unreachable part of the ceiling – the chair had slipped. Her, the bath, the bathroom, the kitchen, stove top, etc., were plastered with the contents of a 4-litre can of paint. I decided that I had no option but to retire to take charge of routine household matters. It worked for a while – I suspect that boredom might have been a contributory factor, but only for a while.
Any opposition resulted in uncontrollable rages – and often language that would have made a wharfie blush!
At times I was definitely in danger of physical violence, so I locked myself into a spare bedroom, the result being violent attacks on the door with whatever implement was available. It ended suddenly.
I came home one evening to find her apparently unconscious on the bedroom floor. I called the ambulance who pronounced her dead. A doctor was called, who confirmed their decision – and then the police! Sudden death; suspicious? They found an empty whisky bottle under the bed. I was in quite a disturbed state as a result, and visited my G.P. for, hopefully, some appropriate treatment. He had seen the death notice and was expecting me.
I told him the background, and he told me what obviously had been the problem – severe vascular dementia.
About two years later I married Margaret – one of the most ladylike persons I have ever known. She was a widow, and we proceeded to have a wonderful second honeymoon lasting many years – lots of travel worldwide, shows, concerts, festivals etc.
Then about three years ago I started to notice some minor oddities, especially with regard to organizing cooking. Her G.P. also noticed a change and persuaded her to see a gerontologist – the result was a shock – Alzheimer’s. I am now her carer.
In many respects the problem is not evident, being manifest mainly in problems with numbers and sequencing; many people are unaware that there is a problem.
But what of the future? There is one thing I am most thankful of – Alzheimer’s seems to be a gentle affliction.
20 years later in life I doubt if I could cope with vascular!