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09 February 2018

Husband with Alzheimer’s forgot he was married to his wife of 38 years. So they got married again!

A disease that whittles away at the memory is not something you normally associate with romance and for the partners of people living with dementia it can be crippling to see the love of your life begin to forget your years together, and maybe even forget who you are.

That is why a touching story from New Zealand has captured the imagination of people all around the world. Step forward Alzheimer’s sufferer Michael Joyce, 68, who has just re-proposed to his wife Linda after 38 years together.

Michael’s memory, and some of his speech, have been snatched by Alzheimer’s. The disease is so advanced that he forgot he was married to his wife of 38 years. But he is in love with her, so he proposed to her on a recent morning. She said yes.

“You don’t say, ‘Oh, we’re already married,’” says Linda, 64. “So, I said, ‘Of course I will,’ thinking he might not remember.” But the next morning, Michael, woke up and asked her, “So, when are we doing this?”.

Linda, who lives with her husband in Frankton, New Zealand, turned to her neighbourhood community website and asked if anyone would be willing to marry them over the weekend. She began her query, “Amidst the often sad and frustrating times living with Alzheimer’s … there is joy!”

“My adored hubby of 38 years suffers from Alzheimer’s. Two nights ago, out of the blue, with tear-filled eyes, he asked me to marry him!” she wrote.

She continued: “Michael had clearly forgotten we were already married but I absolutely went along with him and said I would be delighted to be his wife. In spite of his confused mind, he obviously knows and feels this is something he really wants to do … to Michael it will be our wedding ceremony and to our friends and myself, a truly precious memorable occasion.”

Joyce asked if there was anyone in the community who would say a few words and marry them. People responded enthusiastically offering to help officiate, and a local photographer volunteered to be the wedding photographer.


On their wedding morning, Linda Joyce said she wasn’t sure he would remember, but he woke up and told his betrothed, “Today’s the day.”

The beaming couple, originally from Scotland, exchanged vows at a scenic lake near their home as friends looked on and ducks waddled by in the background. When the ceremony was over, bagpipes began to play a melancholy tune, and the newlyweds danced.

“There’s been a lot of sadness and a lot of frustration,” Linda said, “but despite all the fogginess, today has been pure joy.”

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