Helping my father

Newcomer introductions, personal anecdotes, caregiver issues, lab results, and n=1 experimentation.
Deb
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Helping my father

Postby Deb » Wed Oct 16, 2019 10:25 am

Hi everyone, I am new to the forum. I wasn't really planning to post about this, but it's been running around and around my mind, so I think it would help to get some support/advice from those who have been there, or at least just try and get it off my chest. I am currently caring for my 79 year old father, while my stepmother is away. My Father is in middle-stage Alzheimer's and getting worse. His physical activity has declined quite a bit recently, and he is spending more time in bed, just feeling crappy.

I have tried in the past to discuss with my Dad and Stepmom the idea of the Bredesen protocol and making lifestyle changes that would most likely improve my father's health. One big issue is that my dad has a huge sweet tooth, and at this point, the highlights of his life are largely based on when he gets his treats. They basically told me that my dad isn't expecting to live much longer, and would rather have these pleasures than to try and change his habits. At this point it feels like it may be too late to convince him otherwise, since he's not processing information very well, but at the same time, as he worsens and it takes more of a toll on my stepmom, I feel like it would be irresponsible of me not to try and make one more attempt convince them otherwise; and to at least give it a try for a while and see if there are any improvements. I am very torn between not wanting to upset my dad, or impose my own beliefs on him, and just being incredibly frustrated that anyone would actually choose cookies over feeling better and not forgetting who their loved ones are! I want to explain to them that sugar is an addiction, and the situation is similar to continuing to smoke when you have lung cancer... Thoughts are welcome. Thank you!

Deb
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Re: Helping my father

Postby Deb » Wed Oct 16, 2019 12:24 pm

Also complicating things...he has a very set schedule, which helps him be a bit more independent, and also helps him stay grounded. This schedule revolves mostly around food, and every meal has specific foods. Even if he were able to let go of the treats, almost everything else he eats contains sugar- the cereal, the soymilk, the yogurt, etc. I worry that he might become untethered, and not be able to remember why things are changed, causing a lot of extra stress for him and his wife. On the other hand, if he is able to improve some, then it might be possible for him to understand... IDK!

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Sara Mushel, MS
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Re: Helping my father

Postby Sara Mushel, MS » Wed Oct 16, 2019 7:27 pm

...he has a very set schedule, which helps him be a bit more independent, and also helps him stay grounded. This schedule revolves mostly around food, and every meal has specific foods. Even if he were able to let go of the treats, almost everything else he eats contains sugar- the cereal, the soymilk, the yogurt, etc.


Hi Deb,

Although it's not always easy, thank you for sharing your story. We learn from one another here on the forum, and I'm certain your story resonates with others who would be happy to reach out to you with suggestions. It's clear that you care deeply for your father and you don't want to add any conflict to the relationship. Often the dietary changes associated with the Bredesen Protocol, or with any diet, can feel overwhelming. Have you considered finding or making substitutions for his daily "treats" that would at least be lower sugar, low carb, etc.? There are many ketogenic and paleo recipe substitutes that are wonderful! Maybe you could present it as a special treat that you're making for him without going into the nutritional benefits right away, if at all? I do see his very set schedule as a benefit here because it gives you a roadmap for potentially identifying healthy substitutes for his favorite foods.

In the meantime, there are several resources here within the forum that you may find helpful, including the Primer and Wiki page, including recipes from our members. You can also do a search for topics of interest by clicking on the magnifying glass in the menu bar at the top of the page. If you have any questions navigating the site, please feel free to reach out. I wish you luck with this venture with your dad, and I'd love to hear about your journey with it if you're willing to share.

Sara Mushel, MS
Last edited by Sara Mushel, MS on Thu Oct 17, 2019 1:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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JML
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Re: Helping my father

Postby JML » Wed Oct 16, 2019 8:42 pm

Deb wrote: I am very torn between not wanting to upset my dad, or impose my own beliefs on him, and just being incredibly frustrated that anyone would actually choose cookies over feeling better and not forgetting who their loved ones are!
Hi Deb--It is so hard to know what to do in this situation. You sound like a very loving daughter who cares very much for her dad (and stepmom). And once you learn about the lifestyle changes that can prevent, slow and reverse cognitive decline, you cannot "un-know" them so it is natural to want your loved ones to make these changes. Your dad may not be able to process the pros and cons of giving up his sweets and making these changes at this stage, and his wife may not feel able to take on managing these big changes for the two of them. You can lovingly offer your support, but ultimately, it will be their decision.

You can, however, make a different choice for yourself and embrace the protocol for your own health. You can also still experience a lot of moments of grace with your dad even if it is hard to accept his choices. Know that you are a big help to your stepmom by letting her have a break and caring for your dad while she is away. Caring for the caregiver is also so important.

Hugs to you as you wrestle with this frustration. Know that you are not alone, and you have not failed in any way.
Julie
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Functional Medicine Certified Health Coach
National Board Certified Health & Wellness Coach
Certificate for Reversing Cognitive Decline for Coaches (FMCA)

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Re: Helping my father

Postby slacker » Thu Oct 17, 2019 4:59 am

Deb wrote:
I have tried in the past to discuss with my Dad and Stepmom the idea of the Bredesen protocol and making lifestyle changes that would most likely improve my father's health.


Hi Deb, and welcome.
I understand the difficult position that you are in. My brother was diagnosed with AD in his mid 50's. We do not live in the same part of the country. I tried to share the Bredesen protocol with my sister in law. She was not at all interested. After contemplating going to visit for 2 weeks, getting him walking every day, cooking for them, etc, I realized that they would not be able to sustain the changes being modeled. I had to let go of a situation that I could not control.
Slacker
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Deb
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Re: Helping my father

Postby Deb » Thu Oct 17, 2019 7:56 am

Thanks so much for these responses! I really appreciate all the input. I did forget to mention that I live a 6-hour drive away from my father, and generally only see him a few times a year, so it's difficult to contribute much to his care, or to have much say in it. I did think about offering to come again and help with implementing some things, and possibly to visit more often to help support, but I do also have health problems myself, so it's more difficult for me to do that.

Slacker, thanks for these wise words "I had to let go of a situation that I could not control."

JML, this was very helpful for me to hear "Know that you are not alone, and you have not failed in any way." Also, yes, I am thinking even more now about getting more serious about the protocol for myself. I have been struggling with my health already, and have made many changes, but am still having issues, including fatigue, brain fog and memory problems, so I think I'm going to see a Bredesen trained practitioner in the near future. I already read the book...

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Re: Helping my father

Postby buck3Maureen » Thu Oct 17, 2019 9:07 am

Hi Deb,
Not sure if your dad insists on certain brands of cookies or other treats, but you can use eyrthritrol trade name Swerve as a sugar substitue. It does not cause any gastro problems. Try sweetening his soy milk with it. There is a woman named Camilla Salisbury who has a site where she has many recipes for cookies and treats and you can substitute the sugar with Swerve. One of hers is for cookies that contain only ground almond meal a bit of salt some coconut oil and a sweetener. She has countless variations of her recipes. Hope this helps. Maureen

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Re: Helping my father

Postby floramaria » Thu Oct 17, 2019 9:54 pm

Deb wrote: I am very torn between not wanting to upset my dad, or impose my own beliefs on him, and just being incredibly frustrated that anyone would actually choose cookies over feeling better and not forgetting who their loved ones are! I want to explain to them that sugar is an addiction, and the situation is similar to continuing to smoke when you have lung cancer... Thoughts are welcome. Thank you!


HI Deb, Your story struck a chord in me. For me, the realization that not everyone would embrace the changes that might help prolong cognitive health (or at very least slow the decline) was hard to accept, but it was essential for me to let it go and learn to provide the love and support that I could. In my situation, it was one of my very closest friends. She knew she was beginning to get AD, recognizing its manifestiing her life just like it had in her own mom’s. She was at a very early stage. She and i talked about it, and she was aware that she was beginning to slip in significant ways. I excitedly told her and her husband about the Bredesen Protocol. After the briefest of intros to the concepts, they politely but firmly declined even hearing more about it, or reading The End of Alzheimer’s in a similar way to what you experienced with your dad; she wanted to keep eating ice cream and other goodies because she gets pleasure from it. She didn’t want to get out and exercise. She was at y that point still processing information well, but still, she decided that she didn’t want to go through making any big changes, and that she’d just “let life take its course”. Her husband agreed with that 100%.
Now a few years later, she is still enjoying ice cream, but she has full time care, and needs that. She is largely absent, though still sweet as anything. I love her like crazy. I love her husband too, a wonderful and supportive partner to her.
I understand your frustration, but for myself, I am happy that I let it go. As hard as it can be to accept when someone chooses something incomprehensible to us, ultimately everyone makes their own choice. That is part of individual agency. From my own experiences, my advise is to heed your inclination to not try to impose your own beliefs.
I am happy for you that you are choosing to make healthy choices for yourself.
Functional Medicine Certified Health Coach
IFM/ Bredesen Training in Reversing Cognitive Decline (March 2017)

Deb
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Re: Helping my father

Postby Deb » Fri Oct 18, 2019 7:57 am

buck3Maureen wrote:Hi Deb,
Not sure if your dad insists on certain brands of cookies or other treats, but you can use eyrthritrol trade name Swerve as a sugar substitue. It does not cause any gastro problems. Try sweetening his soy milk with it. There is a woman named Camilla Salisbury who has a site where she has many recipes for cookies and treats and you can substitute the sugar with Swerve. One of hers is for cookies that contain only ground almond meal a bit of salt some coconut oil and a sweetener. She has countless variations of her recipes. Hope this helps. Maureen


Thanks Maureen! Yes, I did try using erythritol for myself for a while, and had decided that I wasn't crazy about it, but I think it could definitely be something to consider again for my dad.

Deb
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Re: Helping my father

Postby Deb » Fri Oct 18, 2019 8:22 am

floramaria wrote:HI Deb, Your story struck a chord in me. For me, the realization that not everyone would embrace the changes that might help prolong cognitive health (or at very least slow the decline) was hard to accept, but it was essential for me to let it go and learn to provide the love and support that I could.


Thanks so much for sharing your story with me floramaria. Yes, I have been trying to come to terms with this for quite a while, and had been doing pretty well with it, but I guess actually getting more involved in my Dad's care, and seeing him suffering triggered me again! I started thinking about how sugar is really an addiction, and how it's kind of like telling a smoker it's ok to keep smoking even though you know it's killing them. Actually, my mom is a smoker, so I'm in a similar position with both parents- oy vey. Of course sugar is even more socially acceptable, so no one really seems to get it, unless they are paying attention to the alternative health gurus :).

Anyway, I really appreciate the validation of letting go of trying to influence this course of events, if that's necessary. I guess I haven't quite gotten there yet... I will post later on what my plan is at this point... :).


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