A pensioner with dementia has made a remarkable recovery after switching to a Mediterranean-style diet high in blueberries and walnuts.
Sylvia Hatzer, from Prestwich, Greater Manchester, could no longer recognise her son and had to be kept in hospital for her own safety because her dementia had become so severe.
But her son, Mark, was determined not to lose another parent and so helped his mother switch diets after realising Mediterranean countries have lower rates of dementia.
She is now being held up by charity the Alzheimer’s Society as an example of how the disease can be – if not be completely beaten – arrested significantly.
Sylvia was diagnosed with dementia in December 2016, and Mark said he ‘reached the lowest point of his life’ after she failed to recognise him on a hospital visit.
Sylvia Hatzer, from Prestwich, Greater Manchester, has regained her memory after her son Mark (pictured together) helped her switch her diet
Mark said he ‘reached the lowest point of his life’ after she failed to recognise him on a hospital visit. They have always been very close since Mark’s brother and father died
Mark said: ‘Since my dad and brother died we have always been a very close little family unit, just me and my mum, 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.’
After deciding medication wasn’t enough, Mark helped her switched diet and started helping her with cognitive exercises including jigsaws and cross words.
Foods Sylvia began incorporating into her diet include broccoli, kale and spinach, sunflower seeds, green tea, oats, sweet potatoes and as a treat, dark chocolate with a high cocoa content into her diet.
A year after her diagnosis, and three years after she began showing symptoms, Sylvia is back to her old self once again.
Mark added: ‘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.
‘For an 82-year-old she does very well, she looks 10 years younger and if you met her you would not know she has gone through all this.
‘She had to have help with all sorts of things, now she is turning it round. We are living to the older age in this country – but we are not necessarily living healthier.’
Mark and Sylvia’s approach has now been endorsed by the Alzheimer’s Society.
The charity has Mark’s blog about Sylvia’s condition on its website and shares their diet and exercise regime and puts their recipes on flyers.
Foods Sylvia began incorporating into her new Mediterranean-style diet include broccoli, kale and spinach, sunflower seeds, green tea, oats, sweet potatoes and as a treat, dark chocolate with a high cocoa content into her diet. Now she is almost back to her old self