Living Well With Dementia
A success story from one of our trial sites' established patients at Kemper Wellness
Note: names/identities were withheld to preserve anonymity.
Our story began with a routine doctor’s appointment in November of 2020. My family noticed that my mom had been more forgetful lately. She was having trouble remembering names and finding words. Out of an abundance of caution, we made a doctor’s appointment to confirm everything was okay. To our surprise, the doctor diagnosed my mom with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and scheduled a follow-up MRI to further explore the evident changes. I started doing research to understand more about MCI. I was very disturbed by what I discovered. “Mild” cognitive impairment is anything but a slight (or mild) impairment. MCI is the stage between the expected cognitive decline of normal aging and the more serious decline of dementia. MCI is often an initial indicator of more serious memory problems and a precursor to a dementia diagnosis.
Fearing the worst, I started doing research on dementia, specifically the most common type, Alzheimer’s. Everything I read made me feel increasingly hopeless. There was no treatment for Alzheimer’s. The prevailing sentiment from the established, traditional medical community was bleak. I read the same thing in article after article: There is nothing you can do. Decline is inevitable. Get your affairs in order. Just enjoy the time you have with your loved ones before they start to decline.
I was unable to accept decline as predestined. I believed there had to be something we could do at a minimum to slow the decline. Thankfully, my research led me to Kemper Cognitive Wellness. I began listening to Dr. Bergman’s podcast Evolving Past Alzheimer’s. For the first time since my mom received the MCI diagnosis, I began to feel hope. Dr. Bergman discussed his experience using functional medicine to get to the root cause of memory loss. He stressed the importance of lifestyle factors- food, diet, sleep, hormones, and exercise and their impact on memory. I decided to wait on the outcome of the MRI before calling Kemper. I felt a sense of peace knowing that if the results of the MRI revealed my mom had Alzheimer’s there was something we could do (or at least attempt) with the hope of slowing the progression.
My mom formally received a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s the following month. Despite knowing there was a possibility this would be the outcome my family was still in shock and completely was devastated. Within 15 minutes of her diagnosis, I was on phone with Kemper. From my first interaction with Valerie, Kemper’s Client Advocate, I felt an immediate sense of peace. Valerie completed an extensive consult with us and answered all our initial questions and concerns. We scheduled an appointment for the following week and began our journey.
The first step for my mother was completing the Discovery Assessment to determine the root cause of her memory loss. We completed the Lifestyle Matrix online, providing a very thorough and detailed medical history. My mother completed extensive blood work. Kemper uses a blood panel that identifies over 100 different biomarkers, many of which her doctors never checked before. Biomarkers capture what is happening in a cell or organism at a given moment. We also met with Dr. Bergman as a family to provide additional details on my mom’s medical history.
A month after she completed the assessment, my family met with Dr. Bergman again. He provided us with a summary of recommendations to help push back against further decline. Here is where the real work began. Altering well-established habits and behaviors is no easy task, but my mother dedicated herself to making the changes. Thankfully, we also had the support of Dr. Bergman and the entire Kemper team, including a registered dietician, health coach, and licensed social worker. Over the next two months, with the support of the team, we made all the lifestyle changes that Dr. Bergman recommended. I am not going to lie to you and say it was easy, however implementing the changes led to significant improvements and tangible, real-life results. My mom began stabilizing. Her memory improved and she had less difficulty with her word finding.
I am thankful to say that two years later, my mom remains stable. I do not want to provide an illusion. This is not a gimmick, pseudoscience, or a cure; however, decline is not inevitable. One thought has remained with me these past two years. At our initial appointment, the Kemper team told my family, “We are here to support your mom and the entire family. It is possible to live well with dementia.” My mom is living proof that with consistency, tenacity, and dedication all things are possible. If you or a family member is struggling with memory loss, I highly recommend Kemper Cognitive Wellness. They treat each client as an individual and provide personalized support and care to help your loved one prevent and push back against Alzheimer’s.