When a family member suffers from Alzheimer’s disease, it is often devastating to the rest of the family. Frustration, as well as heartbreak, can occur when sufferers fail to recognize loved ones, forget what just happened earlier, or forget people and events altogether.
One man found a way to help his mom with Alzheimer’s—she had an advanced form of the disease and didn’t know who he was. Following a drastic change in her diet, a miracle occurred.
Alzheimer's sufferer Sylvia Hatzer, 82, has transformed her condition with diet and brain exercise.
Sylvia’s condition deteriorated rapidly, and the 82-year-old was taken to hospital following a fall from a seizure.
Mark said his mother also forgot who he was—something that devastated him.
“I had been at her bedside for 12 hours a day and more. Sometimes my mum didn’t know who I was or where she was,” Mark said in a blog for U.K. charity Alzheimer’s Society.
“By far, it has been the worst 12 months of our lives. A never-ending round of medication and medical appointments that has seen my mother in hospital for a total of three months.”
The two had a very close relationship—Mark had lost both his father and brother a few years earlier, so the bond between mother and son became even closer.
For his mom to not even know who he was was a heavy cross to bear. “We are not just a mother and son, but a brother and sister, best friends, soul mates,” Mark said.
“We went everywhere together. Just like a double-act, we were rarely seen out without each other.”
Our Mark Hatzer is part of Join Dementia Research, a UK based service which allows you to participate in different…
The health team involved in Sylvia’s treatment were trying their best to help her, but her memory was fading fast.
One time in hospital, Sylvia tried to call the police, and she alleged that she was kidnapped and was held against her will.
“It felt like we were trapped by an incoming tide and there was no way out,” he said.
In search for better ways of treatment, Mark was determined to work with the treating team to improve his mother’s symptoms.
“We both decided we weren’t going to take this lying down and, if we were going down, we were [sic] weren’t going without a fight.”
Extremely proud of our Mark Hatzer and his mum Sylvia who took part in the Manchester #MemoryWalk in aid of @alzheimerssoc on Saturday. They raised £395 on the day – well done both! pic.twitter.com/sUFfcNkzWK
— Slater and Gordon UK (@SlaterGordonUK) October 1, 2018
“Little by little, day by day, we managed to turn things round. It was no quick fix. We worked with our treating team and putting together an action plan (see below). It details a healthy diet with gentle physical and cognitive exercises,” Mark explained.
After 12 months, Sylvia’s symptoms improved, much to the relief of son Mark.
“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. And I am truly grateful for that and to all those who helped us.”
During this time, Mark survived on just three hours of sleep a night while holding down his job. Mark lost 4 stone (approx. 25 kg) in weight and was continually exhausted, but reminded himself of Winston Churchill’s famous quote when he felt down—“If you are going through hell, keep going.”
It’s amazing what family members will go through in order to help their loved ones tackle the tough times. This young lad is truly inspirational and should be commended for his persistence in helping his beloved mother!
A personal action plan, devised by both Mark and Sylvia, included the following:
- Eating ‘brain-nourishing’ foods:
- Berries, especially blueberries, blackberries, and strawberries
- Leafy green vegetables, spinach and kale
- Sweet potatoes, carrots, swede
- Mediterranean diet.
- Keep away from bad foods:
- Refined sugar and sugary drinks
- Fried foods and ‘fast food’
- Pastries, cakes, sweets, and more.
- Recommended activities:
- Regular walking
- A good night’s sleep
- Avoid isolation or loneliness
- Socialise with people
- Memory games and crossword puzzles, and more.
According to the World Health Organization, dementia is one of the major causes of disability and dependency among older people worldwide. Additionally, dementia has physical, psychological, social, and economic impacts to sufferers, as well as to their carers, families, and society at large.
Thumbnail Credit: Video Screenshot | Manchester Evening News