A woman was sadly convinced that her husband was having a secret affair — but it turns out he had early-onset dementia.
Emma Ruscoe, 55, grew suspicious of her husband, Simon, 58, as his behavior began to change in 2015.
“Simon stopped wanting to go out with friends, he didn’t want to go out and socialize. He became very reserved, and I noticed he was withdrawing more and more to the point I thought he was having an affair,” she admitted.
Then he began making wrong turns on their usual routes.
It was a family vacation that finally pushed Emma over the edge. The couple traveled to Cephalonia, Greece, in August 2016, with their two sons, Alex, now 26, and Oliver, now 21, when the family noticed the patriarch was becoming forgetful and argumentative.
After the family vacation, Simon went to see his doctor and was referred to a memory clinic.
The couple spent years going to a series of appointments and even claim that they received a letter explicitly stating that Simon did not have dementia.
Finally, five years after Emma’s initial concerns Simon returned to another appointment at the memory clinic and was diagnosed with early-onset dementia in 2020.
“When he received the diagnosis, I felt a sense of relief,” Emma said. “I knew something was wrong and I was battling for so long — nobody believed there was anything wrong with him.”
“I did feel a huge sense of relief, from my point of view, I knew there was something wrong with him.”
“It was nice to get an answer after battling for so long, once I got the diagnosis, I knew what I was dealing with,” she said.
The term dementia is used to describe a group of symptoms affecting memory, thinking and social abilities that can be caused by several diseases. While Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia in older adults, it is not the only one.
The degenerative condition is caused by damage to or loss of nerve cells and their connections in the brain. Symptoms vary depending on the area of the brain that’s impacted and affect people differently.
The risk of dementia rises as you age, especially after age 65, but can occur in younger, seemingly healthy adults.
“It’s gone from asking him to cut the lawn 12 months ago to now him not being able to do anything on his own,” Emma said.
She shared that the philosophy that gets her through this difficult situation is: “You have to carry on as much as you can.”
“What makes it easy with Simon is that he is a lovely person, and the dementia has not changed that,” Emma noted.
The mother of two hopes to keep her beloved husband with her for as long as possible but admits that she already needs help and isn’t sure how long Simon will be able to be cared for at home.
“Reading the prognosis, he probably will go into a home, but we will fight that every step of the way — I would prefer him to be at home,” she insisted.
Alex and Oliver still live at home and help out along with their maternal grandmother, who lives down the street and lends a hand when she can. The family is also in the midst of looking for a personal assistant to ease the family’s duties and give Simon some independence.
While the family is powering through managing this difficult disease, the heartbreak is constant.
“It is a living grief — you watch that person deteriorate,” Emma confessed. “We have been together for 31 years. Watching the person I have grown up with disappear is heartbreaking.
“On bad days it feels like my heart is being ripped out but on good days I think I am lucky that he is still here.”
“He is my soulmate — the love of my life — and he always will be,” she said.