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Affair or dementia or something else?!

(23 Posts)
Rainbowcoffee Sat 15-Aug-20 18:30:50

My DH who is 68 but fit, healthy and still working has had a subtle personality change. There is nothing nasty or distressing about his behaviour other than a very disconcerting feeling that he isn't quite himself.

I can only describe it as him becoming more 'jolly' and more talkative. He keeps making jokes and being upbeat. And pointing things out to me, almost like a toddler. If we're driving and he sees cows in a field, he's pointing at them and saying cows ... and describing them in detail.

It's all a bit odd. As I say, nothing nasty at all and perfectly reasonable behaviour but just not like him. Not that he was miserable before, so the change is fairly subtle but enough to make me uncomfortable.

Examples of chatiness include things like when we were sitting in a restaurant him suddenly asking me where he thought all the people were from. I made a general not sure, but they're clearly tourists response but he seemed to genuinely need to know where from...we eat at this local restaurant about once a week. Never has he wondered where people are from...

And the other night, we watched a film and at the end he launched into a talk about how amazing people who make films are... they can pan in, pan out, cut scenes, add things in ... all very bemusing when you've regularly watched films with someone for years. When I'd asked him if he'd wanted to watch a film I got an immediate, energetic YES! THAT WOULD BE GREAT! Rather than his usual response of yes good plan or ok.

Getting up this morning as I needed to sort something out. I said I was reluctantly getting up to be met with an energetic 'rise and shine, time to move!'. He's never ever said anything like this before. He wasn't taking the piss and seemed confused when I mentioned it.

So many more examples but he just feels ... different. Nothing I can criticise him for as it's all perfectly reasonable but so strange as it's not him. It almost feels like I'm someone he doesn't know very well and is trying to impress but we just end up arguing as I'm trying to drive and he's banging on about bloody cows.

Nothing has changed to explain his sudden happiness. I bounce between worrying its the start of dementia or an affair 🤷‍♀️ . Or maybe just old age but stereotypically I'd expect grumpiness not an odd jolly enthusiasm for life. And we've been working from home together for 5 months now. I don't see how he'd have suddenly started an affair?!

What would you think? Illness? Affair? He's just suddenly happy?confused

OP’s posts: |
LynnThese4reSEXPEOPLE Sat 15-Aug-20 18:34:19

Actually, if anything, he seems slightly manic. If you are worried, I'd get him to the GP. It sounds like he's in a good mood with it all so hopefully he won't resist.

Rainbowcoffee Sat 15-Aug-20 18:39:29

Slightly manic is a good description. Not exceedingly so... but just really jolly for someone who is usually very laid back and calm.

OP’s posts: |
Amiable Sat 15-Aug-20 18:54:00

Any "out of the blue" personality change is not to be taken lightly. Definitely get him to the GP. I would also suggest writing a list of as many of these incidents as you can remember, time, place, what happened just before etc. Hope it turns out to be nothing

ThickFast Sat 15-Aug-20 18:56:53

I also thought he sounded a bit manic. Is he talking faster or non stop? I’d go to the GP.

user1471453601 Sat 15-Aug-20 19:04:26

A friend of mine once described her Dad, after he had a minor stroke, as much more jovial than he had been.

I agree with pp who advise going to your GPs

AWiseWomanOnceSaidFuckThisShit Sat 15-Aug-20 19:09:53

Have you talked to him about the changes in his personality and how much it's worrying you? Maybe he will say something, some sort of explanation to reassure you?

Goongoon Sat 15-Aug-20 19:33:37

I would not instinctively suspect affair - he would typically be offish rather than jovial.
I agree with pp about getting him checked - let’s hope for best case scenario, that he’s found a new lease of life.

Rainbowcoffee Sat 15-Aug-20 19:47:44

I've tried gently broaching it. He just says he's really happy but doesn't think he's changed. He thinks I'm being strange.

I did wonder about a minor stroke. I commented he seemed to keep stumbling a bit a week or so before he became really... chirpy.

He isn't manic as in talking non stop... just a lot more than usual which would be a perfectly reasonable amount for many people, so it's difficult to suggest something is wrong! We're just usually both laid back and not big talkers. Certainly not ones to point out cows anyway.

I will try and suggest GP

OP’s posts: |
GlitteriestFluff Sat 15-Aug-20 20:01:36

One of the most irritating parts of my Mum's dementia was how she would read out any sign she saw when we were driving. When I saw you talk about the cows, it made me think of that.

My experience has been that initially dementia makes you 'more of' what you are. So my Mom became more silent early on. If your DH is jovial, this would raise my suspicions.

I think a GP consultation would be a good idea. If he won't countenance it, I would contact the GP with my concerns. They may try to say they cannot discuss it due to confidentiality (sadly, this is a common misunderstanding), but point out that you are not asking for any information, you are telling them information. Then when he goes for something else, the GP is aware.

JinglingHellsBells Sat 15-Aug-20 20:49:58

None of what you write suggests dementia. I have experienced that with family members, and also researched it, and there are no signs from what you say.

Dementia comes as many different types but the usual signs are memory loss and confusion over day to day thing. Alzheimers. org has good advice.

Your DH is over-cheery which may be a cover up for his guilt if he is seeing someone, but at 68 and long married wouldn't you spot a change in his habits, when he goes out, time he spends alone, sex drive ( up or down) and more?

JinglingHellsBells Sat 15-Aug-20 20:53:52

He sounds as if he is trying to get your attention! have you become more distant? Is he trying to spice things up?
Is he afraid he's boring you?

The GP would do a very basic, simply memory test (it's actually available online!) because from what you say there are no signs of dementia. Personality changes can happen but not usually straight away.

Pinnacular Sat 15-Aug-20 21:00:50

Without wanting to worry you, but feeling I have to say something just in case... Was he previously depressed? It's often said that some people become very cheerful and happy once they've made the decision to kill themselves. It's like it removes a burden and they feel relieved and happy. I do hope it's not this, and it does seem unlikely, but I wanted you to be aware.

letsdolunch321 Sat 15-Aug-20 22:29:00

Could be he is making more of an effort. A doctors checkup could be the answer.

Srictlybakeoff Sat 15-Aug-20 22:51:43

He probably needs to see the GP. There are different kinds of dementia and some present with changes in personality rather than more typical memory problems. The diagnosis is these cases is more difficult however, and they won’t be picked up on the kind of basic cognitive tests a GP would do. Scans may help, but even if there are no changes on a scan this doesn’t rule out dementia.
It may be however that your GP won’t refer him on to a specialist with just this description of his symptoms. It may be a case of wait and see if it settles . Sometimes stroke disease may present in this way.
Doesn’t sound like an affair. When people become “manic” at this age it is usually related to brain changes .
People can be “ relieved “ of a burden prior to suicide but you would have noticed him being depressed beforehand. It really doesn’t sound like that

Srictlybakeoff Sat 15-Aug-20 23:18:15

@JinglingHellsBells there are some types of dementia- for example frontal lobe dementia which present much more with personality changes than memory problems and it needs specialist cognitive tests to pick these changes up. Vascular problems can affect the brain in ways which cause the personality to change. There are other differential diagnoses. Knowing family members and googling may not give you the true picture of how complex the presentation of organic brain disease is .

SingingTunelessly Sat 15-Aug-20 23:26:13

You say he's been working from home presumably since lockdown? Lack of commute, feeling relaxed and generally happier and less stressed could also be a factor.

Basillify Sun 16-Aug-20 00:32:53


He sounds as if he is trying to get your attention! have you become more distant? Is he trying to spice things up?
Is he afraid he's boring you?

The GP would do a very basic, simply memory test (it's actually available online!) because from what you say there are no signs of dementia. Personality changes can happen but not usually straight away.

That's not our experience of dementia. As @Srictlybakeoff said, there are different variations of dementia that manifest in different ways. My dad was diagnosed with FTD at 62. The first thing we noticed was behavioral and personality changes. Started small and very rarely at first. Strange habits; less engaged in conversation; extreme moods/emotions or unusual/unexpected responses; traveling in silence when he'd typically been chatty; playing music loud and doing things a bit manic; extreme over enthusiastic enjoyment of things; not wanting to go places or do things he'd always done; not wanting to do things as a couple; and maybe a bit reckless, unpredictable and less social awareness. He was always a bit "out there" but some things he was doing or saying just didn't seem quite right. From the outside it looked like he was just stressed or being a bit weird or full of good humour but he had a big personality so it was easy to explain it away. From the inside he wasn't himself but the changes weren't typical of any illness we knew of so couldn't understand why he was changing. Midlife crisis? Stress at work?

From experience I'd say any unexplained change in mood or personality could be absolutely be something, even if the changes are positive. Or it could absolutely be nothing and he maybe is just as happy as he says. The brain is incredibly powerful and can do all sorts of strange things.

We tried for some time to get dad to go to the doctor and he'd shrug it off, say he was just enjoying himself or that we were making a big deal over nothing or that it was us that were crazy and imagining things.

He didn't have memory problems at all at any point in his illness. When we eventually did get him to go to the GP, each time it was diagnosed as stress or depression or dismissed because his personality could explain it. Tested for dementia more than once and passed because he could do all the memory tests no problem. When people saw him in small bursts, they didn't see the changes we'd picked up on over time behind closed doors.

FTD is incredibly rare but I guess our experience has shown me to follow gut instinct. Only you know your DP and you know him better than anyone. If you think something isn't quite right go with your gut.

JinglingHellsBells Sun 16-Aug-20 08:19:14

@Basillify @Srictlybakeoff To be fair, I did say there are many different types of dementia. (I write about and research health issues as part of my job and have written on this topic.) I do know about what you describe.

The point is that a) the OP can't have him diagnosed by proxy- GP would need to see him and be convinced there was good reason to investigate b) resources at the moment are very limited for this kind of investigation - even people with serious issues like cancer are not being seen due to Covid delays and backlog and c) I doubt anyone with mild personality changes would be given CT /MRI scans at this stage.

JinglingHellsBells Sun 16-Aug-20 08:21:28

@Srictlybakeoff The only 'googling' you refer to was I assume by advice to read the information on the Alzheimer's support site. This is very detailed with a lot of medical information and they also offer support to carers.

Aridane Sun 16-Aug-20 08:24:53

Could be hypomania - or lockdown is lifting and ge’s happier, talking a delight in the small detail of day to day things

cptartapp Sun 16-Aug-20 08:35:06

Any diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking history or family history of dementia? All risk factors.

Srictlybakeoff Sun 16-Aug-20 09:11:02

@JinglingHellsBells I did say that the GP might adopt a “ wait and see” approach. And I totally agree that no- one could diagnose by proxy. I just wanted to point out that it’s wrong to say that personality changes can’t happen straight away, when it can definitely be the presenting feature before any cognitive deficit becomes apparent.
However there may be a completely different explanation for the changes op has seen .

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