Is It Dementia? Or Inflammation and Hormone Imbalance?

Recently I wrote a bit about my father’s health journey from age 79 to now 89 and counting.

I received an outpouring of responses from so many lovely people who are struggling with the condition of an elderly parent who they desperately want to help.

I want to help too, so I thought I would share my thoughts here, with all of you.

I received this note from Monica…

“It’s a lovely story, and one I could really relate to if your father also had severe dementia. I struggle with my mother, age 90, who can be very sweet but becomes quite irritated if the staff at her care home try to help her move about with her walker and will say inappropriate things because her brain’s “editors” no longer are working. Not being a doctor myself, I have no idea how much is due to the list of medications she takes and how much is simply due to impaired brain function that can’t be fixed.”

I resonated with Monica, because when my Dad was 79, I could have written his irritability and memory loss to dementia. However, my medical practice, experience, and functional medicine background told me it was hormone imbalance and inflammation.

Some of my thoughts:

  • If she was 50 or 60, how would we be responding differently?
  • What is the list of medications and can any be stopped or paused (in agreement with her doctor)?
    • What nutrient deficiencies are being caused by the medications?
    • Examples:  statins cause potentially devastating drops in COQ 10, which is needed for energy production.  Statins (cholesterol lowering meds) have been associated with mitochondrial dysfunction, liver pathology, myopathies and congestive heart failure.
      • Check CoQ10 blood levels (this is often very low in our elderly)
      • Supplementing with quercetin and COQ10 can help, possibly in association with a statin drug holiday, i.e. taking a break in the medication.
    • Doctors can use the ICD9 code V58.69 to check for nutrient insufficiencies and get the test covered (for the most part)
      • B12, Folate, Ferritin, Vit D 25 OH, CoQ10, ADMA are some key ones
      • Hormone tests like:  free and total testosterone, total estrogens, estradiol, progesterone, pregnenolone, melatonin, DHEA-S
      • Lab testing services I recommend:
    • Many medications interact and accumulate nutrient deficiencies.  Additional methylation, sulfation and glucaronidation support is recommended.
    • Increasing methylated B vitamins, even a weekly B12 shot (prefer Methyl or Hydroxy-cobalamin over cyanocobalamin)
    • Optimize serum Vit D(25OH) levels to 50 – 100 ng/ml
      • When supplementing, I always recommend D/K combinations (Ray of Strength)
    • Adding an Omega 3 supplement
      • Foods rich in healthy fats such as oysters, wild caught salmon and avocados are a great dietary addition.
  • How much protein is she getting?
    • “Let food be our medicine and medicine be our food” – Hippocrates 400 BC
    • How much protein does her doctor/nutrition team recommend?
    • In elderly care as well as hospitals common “protein drinks” have HUGE amounts of sugars and use whey or dairy based protein source which may cause allergic response.
    • Choose vegan protein source with at least 20g protein and less than 6g sugar (!) per serving.  See my Keto-Alkaline® Protein Shake for a high quality standard, and yes, she can take this too. Make a nice smoothie recipe, she too can get creative with it. Stay low on fructose as well however.
    • Is her digestive system working or is she on antacids?
  • Remove gluten and grains add fermented foods
    • Please read "Brain Maker" by David Perlmutter, MD – we must all have this information for those we love and for the generations that follow us!  There is so much to be said here and Dr. Perlmutter says it beautifully in his book.
  • What does she want for herself?
    • Truthfully, a family member had said to me “Your Dad’s 89 he’s had a good life”.  It made me question if I should interfere or not…  It made me ask “Dad, if you could feel better tomorrow than you do today, would you want to do a few things to get there?”
      • From my perspective, we are given a number of days to live, how do we want to live it?  Whether I die tomorrow or in 50 years, have I lived my fullest potential today?  If not, what can I do that will get me there?  Now get to it!
  • Just knowing you are there for her and are praying for her is great medicine.
  • Take her outside for walks, sunshine and nature. Watch a sunset together.
  • Never give up hope. Prayer and meditation are essential as is your own self-care.

“Isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?” 
― L.M. Montgomery from Anne of Green Gables

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Dr. Anna Cabeca

Dr. Anna Cabeca

Certified OB/GYN, Anti-Aging and Integrative Medicine expert and founder of The Girlfriend Doctor. During Dr. Anna’s health journey, she turned to research to create products to help thousands of women through menopause, hormones, and sexual health. She is the author of best-selling The Hormone Fix, and Keto-Green 16 and MenuPause.

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