Sylvia Hatzer, from Prestwich, Greater Manchester was suffering from severe dementia. She couldn’t even recognize her own son. For her own safety, she had to be kept in hospital as her condition was serious.
Sylvia’s husband died of a heart attack in 1987. Her son, Mark Hatzer didn’t want to lose another parent so, he decided to help his mother.
Mark said: “Since my dad and brother died we have always been a very close little family unit, just my mum and me, so for her to not know who I was was devastating. We were a double act that went everywhere together. I despaired and never felt so alone as I had no other family to turn to. Overnight we went from a happy family to one in crisis.”
Mark didn’t allow Sylvia to take prescription medication for her disease. He designed a special diet to help his mother fight dementia. When mark started researching, he found out that dementia was less common in countries around the Mediterranean.
He knew that there would be a reason for this so, he started giving his mother same sort of food typically eaten in Mediterranean countries. It included blueberries, strawberries, Brazil nuts, walnuts, broccoli, kale, spinach, sunflower seeds, green tea, oats, and sweet potatoes.
He also helped her with cognitive exercises including jigsaws and crosswords. After a month, she slowly started gaining her memory back.
Mark said: “It wasn’t an overnight miracle, but after a couple of months she began remembering things like birthdays and was becoming her old self again, more alert, more engaged.”
“People think that once you get a diagnosis your life is at an end. You will have good and bad days, but it doesn’t have to be the end.”
The Alzheimer’s Society has Mark’s blog about Sylvia’s condition on its website. The blog shares their diet and exercise regime.
“I did this for my mum – she has got the condition, and she has done all the hard work – but if what we’ve achieved can benefit other people as well then that’s great,” Mark said.
The 82-year-old had been invited to Queen Elizabeth’s annual summer party in honor of Sylvia and Mark’s potentially revolutionary discovery that is helping others who are suffering from dementia.
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