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My mother-in-law appears to have the early stages of dementia or alzheimer's..what might help slow it down?

Posted by mary

I have read that phosphatydylserine, lithium asportate, fish oil,  gingko, and bacopa can help..any natural or drug suggestions would be appreciated. She sounds fine to talk to her..but she often has trouble remembering what happened yesterday,last week, and sometimes earlier that day..
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You said "appears" so the first thing to do if it has not already been done, is to make sure that is what she has. There are many different entities that can appear to be dementia or Alzheimer's,  some are very treatable and even curable. So start with a good history and physical preferably by a physician, who treats dementia. Get a full work up to be sure. If that has already been done by a qualified professional and the working diagnosis of Alzheimer's has been made, talk to them about treatments, including the FDA approved meds, nutrition, diet, lifestyle, supports etc. You will find many things on the internet, claiming to treat and or cure Alzheimer's- Start with your real life doctor, neurologist, psychiatrist, social worker, or whatever caregiver supports you have in place at this time. Also contact your local Alzheimer's Assoc chapter, for more resources and info. 

Hi Mary,

Dr. Sivak has some excellent recommendations to address the medical side of your question.  You, however, are the best source to address the social and emotional side of your question. 

While several medications can help with memory, the very best thing you can do to help your mother is keep her active and engaged.  Sometimes depression, loneliness and social withdrawal can lead to what appears to be confusion and forgetfulness.  These are natural feelings for many seniors who have lost their identity as an employee, a spouse, or an active parent.  It's natural to become more and more withdrawn and to significantly slow down physically, too.

Explore some ways to help your mother become more physically active.  Can she walk?  Can you take a walk with her when you visit?  Is there a local senior center nearby she can attend for exercise, socialization and meals?  Perhaps the family would be willing to chip in a few dollars and pay a neighbor or grandchild to take her for a walk a few times each week.  While she's walking, she should also be talking and re-engaging socially.

These are just a few of the ideas that can help her get more physical activitity and more social engagement - both key ways to stave off memory loss and dementia.  I'm sure you can think of others, since you know your mom's situation probably better than anyone else.

Good luck!


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