Brian Richards considers himself the president of the New Plymouth Lower Biting Lip Club.

His wife of 59 years, Coral, is in care at Tainui Village because of Alzheimers while he lives in a nearby villa.

“When you are talking to someone with dementia you must remember that even though you see the person you know and have loved for many years… you are really just talking to the disease.

“Experience shows that it is impossible to argue back at the disease. It achieves nothing,” he said.

“I’m up to my 34,000 therapeutic lie now.”

While he sees the lighter side, it’s been quite a journey since 1999 when Coral’s Alzheimers became noticeable.

Nine years ago she went into full-time care and was never ‘happily demented’, he said. “I’ve never been able to take her home because she’s always got so upset. She’s fought it all the way.”

Brian visits her daily but feels anxious beforehand because every day is different. Coral has a 15-second memory retention and some days she doesn’t know who he is.

In the earlier years Coral was suspicious of talking, including phone calls.

“We have lots of friends. We have relatives. So I resorted then to writing what I call Dribble Sheets,” he said. “I’ve got a record of those, which started in November 2004.”

These Dribble Sheets, mailed to 25 people and emailed to 65 monthly, tells their story. “It helps me in the fact that it’s like talking to people. I’m letting it out.”

His strongest emotion was guilt. “She uses the ‘dumped’ word. ‘You dumped me here,’ and that hurts. That’s where the old biting lip comes in.”

The couple have four children, 13 grandchildren, two great-grandchildren. “We had a great marriage for at least 45 years. We had a lot of laughs and a lot of fun.”

His personal motto is you expect and accept. “Expect you can have trouble but no matter what it is, whether it’s good or it’s bad, you accept it.”

While putting the Dribble Sheets together for a book is not on the radar, Brian is happy to add people to his email list. Contact him at