Hi everyone,

Long time forum observer here. Thanks for your answers and support of one another.

My mom is 79 and I believe she is hovering between stage 4-5 dementia. She was a great mom growing up and adores the grandkids. She lives at home with my young family. She is physically quite well, but her mind is deteriorating. She retains her skills and can play games, but even she laments over the loss of her short term memory. Due to mood swings, severe forgetfulness, not remembering where she's been, the care she requires to focus on self care - eating, bathing, etc. - we probably can't keep her at home much longer. She has begun leaving the house in the middle of the night with the delusion that her valuables have been left at a nearby park. My security camera alerts me when she leaves. Caught her at 1 a.m. tonight. I can reassure her that all is well, and that pacifies her, but it will happen again.

Mom has be blessed with a strong immune system and is very rarely sick. She has always believed in holistic care and dislikes pills and medicine, unless necessary.

I took her to a functional medicine office where the doctor is a D.O. Some swear by it and others call such methods charlatan.
The doctor has advised:
1. A stool sample (to check for bad bacteria)
2. A full bloodwork panel (checking for hormone levels)
3. Heavy metals testing (if present she would have chelation treatment)
4. MRI
5. Stem cells to be administered to the brain

What can you tell me about functional medicine and stem cells? The research is very new and it seems evidence is inconclusive. Does anyone have experience or knowledge of these treatments?

Love my mom and hate to see her slip away.

Find Care & Housing
Certainly blood panels as part of a thorough physical exam (which a DO can do just as well as an MD) are part of the differential diagnosis of cognitive impairment. MRI also to rule out treatable causes such as NPH. Nothing wrong with heavy metals testing if she has symptoms of that. Not too sure about stool samples for "bad bacteria". Wouldn't do stem cells at this point. Have one acquaintance who paid out of pocket for this from some supposed expert but it didn't do anything for her husband, and an examination of that doctor's website revealed an article about ONE patient who supposedly had dementia and got all better as a result of his treatment, whatever it was. I looked up "functional medicine" and am trying to wrap my head around the definition, which was something about treating the whole person (always a good idea, in my opinion) with nutrition (okay), nutrigenomics (I dunno) and epigenetics (I also dunno). But I'd watch out for the charlatan who wants to order test after test and prescribe untested treatments designed primarily to line their pockets by giving false hope (think laetrile). By the way, I didn't just accept my husband's diagnosis (dementia, but not specified, evidence of multi-infarct disease & brain atrophy) immediately, tried & tried to make him better, but finally (after several years) have accepted that this wasn't something I could "fix". But I have him at home, he has wonderful caregivers, gets a LOT of attention and love, and we've been at it for almost 10 years now, he's in the severe stages but still laughs and makes faces and kisses me.
Helpful Answer (2)
Reply to superstring

HI. My sister & I have an alarm pad that you can put on the bed. It has a low and hi beeping sound that goes off whenever you move and if you get up out the bed the alarm sounds continuously. For our dad once he heard the alarm it kinda stopped him in his track where he just didnt move or it took him so long to get up we would catch him before he actually got up.
Look for it on Amazon or at DME stores this Rd are like medical specialty supplies like wheel chairs or bath tub bars or braces, etc.
You can also get an alarm at the entryway of your door or bedroom doors. The alarm goes of when the person walks not it. Also on Amazon. There is also a floor mat that can be used on the floor.
Hope this helps. My dad walked out the house one time and that was it for us. Lol.
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Reply to LooseIt

Leaving the house at odd hours like your mother did must be rectified by placing locks or by whatever means necessary.
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to Llamalover47

ImTheMom, regarding your Mom leaving in the middle of the night. I read that at night you place a black throw rug in front of the exit doors. To someone who has dementia, this black rug will look like a hole in the floor, thus the person will be afraid to step on the rug.

Another thing, have your Mom tested for a Urinary Tract Infection. Such an infection can cause all types of different issues with us older folks, from mood swings, to seeing things that aren't there, plus it can mimic dementia. It's a simple test, Mom need to pee in a cup [well, maybe not so simple], but worth having checked out.
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Reply to freqflyer


I didn't know what a D.O. was so I looked it up.

"What is a D.O. doctor?
According to the American Osteopathic Association, doctors of osteopathic medicine regard the body as an integrated whole, rather than treating for specific symptoms only. Allopathic medicine, also referred to as “Western medicine,” treats disease symptoms using remedies such as drugs or surgery."

So that's interesting, but I'd also be fascinated to hear what the AMA thinks a D.O. is. Any bets, before I trot along and see what their website says?
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to Countrymouse
worriedinCali Jan 15, 2020
You realize that a D.O is a real doctor right? They are fully licensed. They attend the same medical schools as M.Ds.? They belong to the AMA just like MDs.
See 2 more replies
If you are her HCPOA, you might see if there is a study that she might participate in. I pray that research finds a real treatment or cure for dementia. But, I'd put her safety as a priority first, with supervision during the night, so she isn't leaving her house in the middle of the night. That could be very dangerous. In our community, we have had several people with dementia go missing lately. One of them was a friend of my family. Fortunately, he was located far from his home and returned in okay condition. One other man is still missing and has been gone for almost a month.
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Reply to Sunnygirl1
SnoopyLove Jan 16, 2020
A man in the town next to ours went missing around Labor Day. There were vigils, air searches, canine searches, posters everywhere, concerned citizens meeting daily at local parks to do what they could, and he has not been found. So tragic, and I can't even bear to think what his family is going through. Finding the poor man's body would be a blessing at this point, and that is a devastating conclusion to come to.
I would ask to talk with someone that they have treated for dementia/alzheimers. I would bet that they want mom involved as a trial for later stage application. Which is fine if they are honest about it. I would be wanting some huge discounts for services if this was the case. My PCP is a D.O. and I have never had any issues with my insurance paying for anything. I like that he treats my entire body, isn't always pushing pills.

I would ask some really pointed questions and decide by the attitude if I was willing to allow them to use mom as a trial. Any doctor that gets up in arms because they are questioned is not someone that I would trust with my body or that of a loved one.

I think that it has to start with someone and I am willing to do trials if they are completely honest with me, especially with something that is going to cost me my life anyway and is progressive. What do you have to lose? is my feelings on the subject.

I know a man that had stem cell therapy on a bum shoulder and had wonderful results. Full range of motion restored, no pain, rapid healing and many other benefits, but that was not his brain. So I have personally seen good results from this treatment. I do believe that it has amazing potential for improving quality of life in some instances.

As to walking out the door in the middle of the night. We had to install little tab locks up high when granny started wandering. They don't let the door open at all, are easy to use, except for someone that has cognitive issues. Place them up high, above her line of vision (about six inches above her forehead, cognitive issues keep people from looking up) and they will help you keep her from wandering out of the house. Cheap at any hardware store.

I am sorry that you are experiencing the long goodbye with your mom. It is brutal. Hugs, you will decide the best thing for her.
Helpful Answer (3)
Reply to Isthisrealyreal

I’m likely not answering your true questions as I have no experience with functional medicine. But I would like to add, my aunt dealt with Alzheimer’s and part of her experience was nighttime wandering. She left home in the wee hours once, took all of her jewelry with her, and deposited it all over a large neighborhood. Only by the kindness of good neighbors both she and the jewelry were recovered. It was so dangerous for her, that was when the family knew a different choice had to happen. You’ve done a wonderful job as a caregiver, now I fear there will be a time that exhaustion takes over and you won’t catch your mom wandering. It won’t be fair to you to live with guilt should something bad happen. I hope you’ll go ahead and take steps for her to move where she can be truly safe and watched over 24 hours a day. You’ll still be a caregiver for her, but one with rest and assurance that she’ll not wander into danger. I wish you the best
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Reply to Daughterof1930

Functional medicine has many useful ways to manage a variety of illnesses. There is some evidence that diet for example, can help to avoid or slow dementia; however once the patient is at Stage 5, not sure what exactly can be done. There is no evidence that stem cells will have any effect and not sure how they would be administered. The blood brain barrier would likely filter them out. The MRI would just confirm findings such as changes in brain tissue that helps to document the type of dementia present. Other than the stem cell recommendations, the other testing, like the stool testing to evaluate the gut microbiome, evaluation of hormone levels and heavy metals testing are all part of a normal functional medicine evaluation and may find problems that could be treated.

At this point, not likely to fix her dementia. She is delusional and that may be indication of vascular dementia or something other than alzheimers . I agree that she will likely need placement if she is wandering at night. You may want to look up information about diet and articles by Dale Bredesen, MD, a neurologist who is working on this subject. I think that there is great promise and at the very least, hope that some things can be done to slow or reverse cognitive decline but it may be that your mother has progressed too far. I have been reading and researching functional medicine approaches myself since after caring for my mother and my inlaws, all with dementia, I would like to avoid that for myself. Functional Medicine doctors are not quacks but please do be advised that much of the testing they do is not covered by standard insurance and may not be covered by Medicare. It can be quite expensive and since there is no proof at all that stem cells would help, it is almost certainly not going to be paid for by Medicare. I am a retired RN and this topic is really interesting to me.
So sorry about your mother. I agree with others that have said that at this stage, probably not much that can be done but Dr. Bredesen has had some success so you can at least do that research. You will find a lot about this online. In the meantime, your mother's condition is progressive and will continue to worsen. You need to keep her safe of course, but your first consideration needs to be your own family so you should begin to assess what options there are for her in terms of living arrangements.
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Reply to dogparkmomma

I have two friends who are D.Os.

They have the same education and training as an MD. Just have a different approach is all.
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Reply to LoopyLoo

Dementia is not reversible. Parts of her brain have already died. I think by stage 4 or 5 its wise to just let the Dementia progress. If there was any type of help, it should have been done at the onset. Just my opinion.

Do you have round knobs on your doors? If so there are baby covers that you put over them. When Mom tries to turn them, they just go around and around. But other members can use them with no problems. There is also somekind of lock that you put out of her reach. My cousin put in deadbolts that need a key. Now these maybe against fire code but my Uncle had a caregiver with him 24/7. My cousin had them removed after my uncles passing. Because of the stairs coming up out of Moms room, I used a baby gate so she couldn't walk up them. I had it positioned high enough she couldn't climb over it.
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Reply to JoAnn29
Isthisrealyreal Jan 15, 2020
Keyed deadbolts are against fire code.

However, you will only be told to change them if for some reason the fire department were to do an inspection.

But, if there were a fire and someone was injured, it would be a different story.

Everyone I know has at least one in their home.

Ww have them and leave a key in unless we are traveling, then I figure to make it as hard as possible if someone is going to rob my house. Climb through the window with that there stolen property. 😁
There are businesses run by "doctors" in my state that are under investigation for supposedly administering stem cell to cure everything from headaches to cancer.

1) There is as yet no credible research that stem cell treatment can do much of anything. Even the limited usage allowed currently by the FDA is still being researched. Even earlier claims that it can help with Parkinson's Disease have not been proven. Read the FDA article posted below where it indicates only the "potential" of stem cell usage in humans.

2) Stem cells have not been approved for use in humans by the FDA except in a very limited process. What these "doctors" are claiming to be stem cells are not only fake, they can result in physical harm and possibly death. One elderly woman in Texas almost died after being administered "stem cells".

Do your research on heavy metals also. There's a lot of fraud on that, as well, because the possibility of actually having enough heavy metal in your system to do you physical or mental harm is rare.
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Reply to kirahfaye

Shes had a good, unmedicated life up until now. The main concern about drug treatments is long term effects - causing heart attack, MS, or Alzheimer's. Well, she's there anyway. Now modern medicine can step in so you have a little longer with the functional mom. Taker her to a Geri psyc for a full cognitive work up. There are a few drugs that may slow her progression so you can enjoy her personality a little longer.

I'm all for natural remedies and avoid meds as much as possible (doesn't help that I become allergic to everything!). Once I develop dementia, I'd like to keep my wits as long as possible and the go quickly. If taking aricept or something will do that, I'm all for the drug!
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Reply to surprise

No one test for dementia exists (ALZ or other) but no harm in testing stool, blood, metals etc. The Doctor is being thorough to rule out other causes for symptoms. MRI for my Mum showed evidence of previous TIAs. A-ha moment! As was some (slight but noticable) behaviour changes. Vascular dementia is 2nd most common behind Alzheimer's.

I have heard of research into stem cells but not any actual treatments. Good question!

Have you seen any Teepa Snow on YouTube? She's not a fan on the 7 stages with the focus on lost ability. More about what the person can still do & strategies to cope. You sound very positive & focused on the best for your Mum. May suit your style? If interested, check out her info.
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Reply to Beatty

Although we can read about a lot of exciting research with stem cells clinical trials are only in the early stages, I think that it is much too early to jump on the stem cell bandwagon. In my opinion this is modern day snake oil and the only lasting benefit will be to the therapist's pockets. Although many may feel that there is nothing to lose in trying these unproven treatments but there IS potential for harm.
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Reply to cwillie

I’m so sorry that you are struggling with this. How do you feel about holistic treatment for your mom? I doubt she would receive that type of care in a facility and may not be what is best for her. I’m curious about if her doctor has treated others with ALZ.

Certainly is scary that she tries to leave your home. What about some type of alarm system? Are you sleeping? Do you watch your camera all night? What happens if you are asleep and miss her departure on the camera?

Are you more interested in assisted living or a nursing home? Have you started looking for a place? Please do that soon and have a serious talk about it with her. Again. I am so sorry that you and your family are going through this difficult situation with your beloved mom.
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Reply to NeedHelpWithMom

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