A Masterton woman's diary entries that document her husband's rapid decline into dementia have been adapted into a book, which she hopes will help others going through similar experiences.

Rosamunde Read has written Forget Me Not and all proceeds from the book will be donated to Alzheimers research.

Mrs Read said during the two-year journey, from when her husband, Rodney, was diagnosed with dementia to his death in May, 2013, she watched him "go downhill quite rapidly".

In 2010, Mrs Read began to notice peculiarities in her husband's behaviour.


She said Rodney would repeatedly put things in wrong places, get lost on familiar driving routes and use the wrong words when he was trying to explain himself.

After noticing these signs, a long process of medical tests began and eventually Rodney was diagnosed with Binswanger's disease, a form of dementia characterised by loss of memory, intellectual function and mood changes.

Mrs Read described Rodney as quiet and caring, a workaholic who was always doing something, and someone who was always helping people.

She said he was a very social person but this changed as the dementia set in, as did her role.

"You become caregiver, not wife. Your role changes."

She said although he recognised her "virtually right to the end", she is unsure whether he understood their relationship.

"I don't think he knew me as his wife but as someone who was kind to him."

She said it was a lonely experience watching her partner of 35 years "go downhill".

"You have got to have an understanding of dementia to be able to cope," she said.

Mrs Read, a retired teacher, started writing articles for Alzheimers Wairarapa and began putting her thoughts into a diary when she could not sleep at night.

She said little things, like finding Rodney's shoes in his sock drawer, started to happen all the time and she became a "problem solver".

Whenever Rodney lost his glasses, she would find them in the hanky drawer.

"You had to think logically, you would use a hanky to clean the lenses."

She said he once planted a whole tray of baby plants that should have been separated out, which he should have known because he was a professional gardener.

"He would sweep all the leaves up, collect them and then dump them in another part of the yard.

"Little things like that would happen the whole way through."

Mrs Read said patience and tolerance were her tools for dealing with the dementia.

"You have to be selfless, you can't think of yourself."

When Rodney began forgetting where the toilet was, Mrs Read would say to him, "have they moved it again", to make light of the situation.

Rodney was attending daycare twice a week but eventually, as his health declined, Mrs Read decided to put him into full-time care.

Mrs Read visited her husband every day at Lyndale Manor, where he lived out his final year "receiving outstanding care", until he died, aged 73.

"After 40 years of teaching you think your retired life going to be different. I didn't plan for this in my retirement."

Mrs Read, who is personally funding Forget Me Not, said she hopes to have the book out by September, World Alzheimer's Month.

"It's a hell of a journey for anyone to go through. I'm glad something good is coming out of it."