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I'm not sure if I'm boasting or complaining, and I don't want to tempt Providence, but my mother (90 in July, chronic LVHF, complex co-morbidities, multi-factorial dementia) is on really good form and - here's the odd bit - is getting bit-by-bit, consistently, better. Her memory is improved. Her confusion is less. Her mood is generally more positive. This has been going on, excepting the odd off-day, for a good two or three months and, while I'm delighted, it's got to the point where I'm beginning to wonder whether her various diagnoses were quite right.

The current thinking is that she has a mixed dementia picture including vascular and Alzheimer's involvement. As I understand it, sustained recovery in either of those conditions simply doesn't happen. A CT scan 8-9 months ago showed some atrophy but otherwise nothing clear and definitive. Unfortunately she can't have an MRI so I appreciate that her older age psychiatrist has one hand tied behind his back; but what am I to think?

Has anyone else experienced this? Did it continue? Was there an explanation? I don't want to get over-excited/deluded about a flash in the pan but I don't, either, want to miss an opportunity to get behind her recovery - if it is one - and push it.

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CountryMouse, one of the issues we've dealt with throughout the years is the balance between western medicine's focus on medication as a primary source of treatment and/or cure vs. integration of what has come to be known as "alternative medicine."

I understand what you're saying about your medical relatives. No blame on medical folks - they've been educated to see medication as a primary healing source. After the discovery of the miracles medication could perform, I think the emphasis gradually shifted from natural sources to manufactured sources.

Go out in the garden and plant a healing garden of medicinal herbs? Naw! But prescribe something of dubious origin which may have originated or been manufactured in abysmal conditions in China or India...that's ok. Not that the medical folks endorse contaminated meds - they don't have the resources to check them out. And they're still acting on their education.

Have you ever read Herb Quarterly or Herb Companion? Your openness to alternative treatments makes me think you might find it interesting.
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I'm wondering myself, GA. But I'm surrounded by medical relatives and they'd all laugh their heads off if I so much as mentioned it. I'm sure Duke University (it's usually Duke when it's practical and useful) published some kind of study not long ago, though. X-Files too scary for me!

On the other hand, I'm sitting here with a chicken on my knee (yes, that chicken, name of Alice) while I type - she's come in from the rain because I left the window open and she's under the impression that 'mi casa e sua casa' - so perhaps being thought a nut job is something it's a bit late to worry about.
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Countrymouse, much of what you describe is happening with my mother. I attribute it to the Namenda XR she started in December. All the other ideas posited here have real merit also and give me food for thought in the following: she started bathing more often without prompting or a fight, remembered how to dial the phone, helps in the kitchen, moves around more, does more walking outside her condo, is kinder to me (which I believe comes from my stepping away to protect my own sanity and hiring sitters) but not to my brother who is there caring for her many days a week. She has also become better at controlling her reaction to others "trying to control" her and her paranoia about "being put somewhere." Her memory is better and worse; I've long described it as a sieve: we never know what's going to stick and what isn't. My brother continues to believe for the total restoration of her mind. I'm not that optimistic but like you, want to get behind and encourage whatever recovery is taking place, regardless of its cause or longevity. How do I stop holding my breath and waiting for it all to crash backwards and just start enjoying the benefits of these changes today, while not losing sight of what could be coming? Painful history is a tough thing to silence. Congrats on the beauty of your garden and whatever (more oxygen to the brain, restored body or brain chemical balance, more sunlight, etc.) has allowed your mother to see and acknowledge that beauty at last!!!
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Mouse, maybe all your mother needed all along was some good old dark chocolate! Seriously, it's amazing how much a deficiency of some mineral or vitamin can make.

Or, have you been watching X-Files again??
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B*gg*r me! This is getting eerie. Mother just went past the window onto the front garden and said: "the garden's looking lovely, isn't it?" You could knock me down with a feather. Has she been abducted by aliens or something?
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GA, winter is such a rough time for elders especially, you're right. The chill in the bones, the damp, the gloom… goodness I'm depressing myself!

My mother's always been a traveller, taking herself off on long haul trips, and of course she not only misses it but it depresses her that she's not physically up to it any more. Well! We'll just have to see what we can provide in the way of extra sunshine. I wish she was more given to joining in, signing up for new social activities; but switching on a daylight lamp for an hour every morning over breakfast even she should be able to cope with.

I had to laugh at the idea of giving her a plant to care for. She is a legend in the gardening world: nothing survives her supreme indifference. I do grow plants around her, and arrange fresh flowers, believing that whether or not you care much about your environment it must affect your mood, but my goodness it has to be something spectacular for her to notice it.

She caught sight of the peonies after they'd been opening in a vase for a couple of days and said "gosh, they're a bit much, aren't they?" My beautiful crimson peonies, sacrificed to gracing my mother's living room, and that was the thanks they got. Sigh.

She doesn't mean it nastily. She just can't bring herself to care about plants - beats me, but I suppose not everybody has to.

I'm very interested in what you say about the LBD, Jeanne. Do you know, I'm beginning to half-bake a wonder about whether in some people some other, spare part of their brain starts compensating? I'm glad the doctors at least had the humility to admit they didn't know. "Dunno, search me" I can cope with as an answer. Vague, semi-plausible waffle that peters out when even they know it sounds like rubbish, though… that is annoying.
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Further thoughts on the SAD phenomenon....watch her closely as the seasons change at the end of the year and if she begins to show signs of reversal, plan some extra activities that will buoy her spirits.

Do you garden? Start plants in the winter with grow lights? Or maybe just get a lovely ivy for her to care for and remind her of spring.

Take her to lunch or dinner more often.

Go to free concerns, which incresae in number around the holidays.

And let us know what's working. I've seen the definite changes in myself as well as my father, who's much happier now that he can get out and putter around in his workshop. Winter can be very, very confining.
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BTW, Coy's progress did not follow even the rough outlines of how Lewy Body Dementia progresses. His absolute worst year was his first and he improved dramatically after that. I even asked his neurologist after a few years if perhaps the diagnosis could have been wrong. The doctor, an internationally respected researcher, told me he was 99% certain of the diagnosis. Autopsy confirmed that Coy not only had LBD, he had a particularly severe case. So why did he do better for so long? "We don't know."

Sometimes we have to accept the mysteries.
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I understand why you are leery. I don't think your mom is cured. But enjoy this day by day, as long as it lasts.

The SAD theory is fascinating. She might not react much to a sun lamp except on dreary days, but it is worth a try. I know you'll keep us informed.
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Oo! Now! SAD, what an interesting thought… I haven't factored that in, you're right. I got my son a daylight lamp a few years back, when he was struggling with early starts and asked for one for Christmas. If I can't pinch it back from him (pound to a penny he's lost it) I'll get her her own. Worst case scenario: it does nothing for her and I can try it on me.

I hadn't noticed a seasonal cycle, but there have been so many other troughs and troughs that they would have got in the way - she broke her wrist last April, so that was a downer; she was still getting over her stroke and that took all summer…

I think SAD might be a very interesting point to ponder. Thank you.
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Dark chocolate contains serotonin, which increses blood flow to the brain and heart. And all of us chocolaholics know what a mood enhancer chocolate is! It might be that the dark chocolate gave her low-dose SSRI a big boost and the two combined together improved her mood and outlook, then her health as a byproduct. Medication and "mindfulness" are increasingly being considered by mainstream medicine as positive impacts on overall health.

Pam made a good point; if your mother lived in any of the areas that experienced the long and severely brutal winter, she probably felt a tangible relief when the mountainous piles of snow began to melt.

Much as I loved winter, even this last one began to wear me down.

I'd say keep up what you're doing and be joyful that you've accidentally stumbled on some good combination that has improved her life!
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If she has SAD (seasonal affective disorder) she would improve as the days get longer and decline as the days get shorter... possibility?
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Thank you, both - yes, I am being a worry-wart and I should just count our blessings… but it's so odd! Three months ago, which was also 12 months since she was formally diagnosed, I was bracing for myself for her gradual, inevitable decline; now, blow me if she isn't a different person.

She's been on a low-dose SSRI for over a year; a new diuretic for about a year; other than that, nothing's been changed apart from my own kitchen-sink contributions of 70% dark chocolate before bed and a common-or-garden Vitamin C 200mg tablet at breakfast, to cover any gaps. And I only added those in because they were a) definitely harmless, b) tasty and c) you never know they might help. I am not a believer in miracle cures of any sort, so no I am not imagining that chocolate can change the course of dementia! If only…

I'll go and see if she wants another crack at that jigsaw puzzle!
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Medicine is an inexact science. So it may be that the diagnoses were off. Or it may be that your mother's physical and mental condition are as good as they can be right now. Whatever it is, just enjoy.I hope that it lasts.
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That's lovely, Countrymouse. You noted she is seeing a psychiatrist; if she's taking medications for depression, or if seeing the psychiatrist is helping her sleep better, these could be helping to mitigate symptoms that appeared like dementia. (Depression and lack of sleep can both cause confusion and memory loss, especially short-term memory.) Otherwise, just enjoy being with the mother you know and love. :)
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