It was three years ago when Mark Hatzer noticed his mother’s forgetfulness. 82-year-old Sylvia was hospitalized for her own safety as her condition became severe.
The mother had gotten to the point where she didn’t recognize her son. There was also a time when she accused the nurses of kidnapping her.
Speaking about his mother, Mark said: “When my mum was in hospital she thought it was a hotel — but the worst one she had ever been in. She didn’t recognize me and phoned the police as she thought she’d been kidnapped.”
After losing his father to a heart attack, his mom’s struggle with dementia left him feeling as if he had lost both his parents.
“We were a double act that went everywhere together,” he expressed. “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.”
Instead of following the prescribed medication, Mark tried to change his mother’s diet to combat dementia. After long research, they discovered that dementia is uncommon in many Mediterranean countries because of their diet.
Then, the two created a diet according to the eating habits of those countries.
“Everyone knows about fish but there is also blueberries, strawberries, Brazil nuts and walnuts — these are apparently shaped like a brain to give us a sign that they are good for the brain,” Mark said.
Sylvia also ate other foods like sweet potatoes, oats, broccoli, dark chocolate and green tea. She miraculously started to regain her memory.
“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,” Mark expressed.
“People think that once you get a diagnosis your life is at an end,” Mark said. “You will have good and bad days but it doesn’t have to be the end.”
After hearing about Mark and Sylvia’s method, the Alzheimer’s Society has shared her recipes, diet, and exercises on their website.
“It’s fantastic that Sylvia along with her son Mark have taken action to create a personal plan that works well for her dementia diagnosis,” Sue Clark from the Alzheimer’s Society said.
“There is currently no cure or way of preventing the progression of the condition, but taking regular gentle exercise, eating a healthy diet and doing cognitive exercises can help someone with dementia manage their condition more effectively.”
Sylvia has also been invited to one of Queen Elizabeth’s famed garden parties to honor her efforts.
“For my mum, knowing that she has helped other people, has really helped her,” Mark added.
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