Dementia is an ever growing, looming epidemic and we are watching our parents and grandparents disappear into this awful illness. There were 30 million patients affected by Cognitive decline in 2012. That is crazy!! Until now, there were no cures or treatments to reverse this condition. This is why I love Functional Medicine.
There are so many causes of dementia to include vascular causes (hardening of the arteries), inflammation, diabetes, toxins, genetics, trauma (See the movie Concussion), hormone deficiencies, vitamin deficiencies and more. Yet, all we have been offered is one pill to address one part of the cause. I don't know about you but my body is pretty complex! There is no magic bullet.
In March, I attended the Institute of Functional Medicine's first conference on Reversing Cognitive Decline. They discussed the MEND trial out of UCLA, nine of 10 participants displayed subjective or objective improvement in their memories, beginning within three to six months after the program's start. Of the six patients who had to discontinue working or were struggling with their jobs at the time they joined the study, all were able to return to work or continue working with improved performance. This is amazing!! They measured significant increases in size of the Hippocampus, a part of the brain that shrinks with this complex disease. So measurable changes in the brain and function!
This occurs by addressing the very complex human body and brain like never before. Now the goal is to recognize earlier changes of neurodegeneration like memory loss, tremors, slow gait (how someone walks), increasing anxiety about things done with no difficulty before, word finding issues that are new (we all have some of this at times), worsening handwriting, and more. We need to not just accept this is the way to go.
I noticed my father-in-law start about 15 years before he passed away asking every day where the trash can was. He was just forgetful enough to drive the family crazy but not enough for them to notice that he had Alzheimers. From the time I noticed that, it took about 3 years to get the neurologists to diagnose him even though I kept pushing them. He was smart so he did well on the testing. I only imagine if I knew this stuff back then how it would have gone.
When you notice this start happening in your loved one, get them evaluated. The recovery from this is very complicated and needs a multi-disciplinary team approach on the medical side but also on the family side. There is a lot involved and someone with memory impairment could not manage alone. See a Functional Neurologist or ask your local Functional Medicine doctor to see if this could help your family member that is just not themselves anymore and don't wait too long to get help.