Mom and son created an action plan for dementia; a year later and she's back to her old self.
Anyone who has experienced Alzheimer’s in a loved one knows what an unforgiving disease it is; one that’s hard not to feel helpless when faced with. But this mom and son fought back with a well-researched action plan, and now Mark Hatzer has his mom back.
The story comes from the Alzheimer’s Society website, and describes how Mark’s now 82-year old mom, Sylvia, was diagnosed with multifactorial Alzheimer’s in December of 2016. It progressed so quickly that at its darkest times, she did not remember who he was or where she was. But after pouring over research and a year of hard work, Mark says, "I slowly got my mum back. Her memory is improving all the time. She is more alert and engaged. She is basically her old self again.”
“The doctors prescribed various medications. The problem was the medication only slowed down the degeneration. It was unlikely to stop it or reverse it. My mum was already on more than her fair share of medication for other ailments," Mark says. “We decided to embark on some research to see if there was any merit in trying alternative treatments. You know the sort of thing, vitamin supplements, a healthy diet and exercise etc.”
The mom and son spent the year living in a nightmare, including a lot of hospitalization and one late night call when Sylvia thought she had been kidnapped. (She hadn’t been.)
But eventually, her condition has improved to where she is now, her old self, according to Mark.
Here are the three steps of their action plan, according to the Alzheimer's Society.
1. Eat brain-nourishing foods• Berries: Especially blueberries, blackberries and strawberries
• Leafy greens: Spinach and kale
• Bright (mostly orange) vegetables: Sweet potatoes, carrots, swede (aka rutabagas), et cetera
2. Stay away from bad foods• No refined sugar and sugary drinks
• No fried or fast foods
• No pastries, cakes, sweets, et cetera
3. Increased physical, mental and social activity• Regular walking
• A good night’s sleep
• Avoid isolation or loneliness
• Socialize with people
• Memory games, crossword puzzles, et cetera
There has been so much research showing the benefits of these things separately; but as
the Alzheimer's Society points out, “while there are multiple studies into diet and the disease that are very promising, there have also been large studies that have not shown similar trends.”
But it seems like these three simple plans of attack are just good common sense and serve up a variety of benefits, so how could it hurt? Of course we don't know exactly why Sylvia improved; it could be a combination of things – but investing in healthy food and remaining active are proving to be a keystone to wellness and longevity.
The BBC asked some experts what they thought about the story (the consensus seems to be that yes, all of these things are good to do); and you can read more about Mark and Sylvia at the Alzheimer's Society.
In the meantime, I'll be eating blueberries and sweet potatoes while doing the Sunday crossword.