Gwen & John, Retired
In early 2009 we sold up & started travelling around Australia. 6 months into our travels I realised there was something amiss with my husband’s health. His short-term memory was getting really bad, but now it was his mid-term memory as well, he couldn’t remember 90% of our travels. He was also losing his ability to focus on anything and to pay attention to his surroundings. I mentioned this to his GP who said it was just ageing and not to worry.
In early 2009 we sold up & started travelling around Australia. 6 months into our travels I realised there was something amiss with my husband’s health. His short-term memory was […]
“He can remember things now that he hadn’t remembered before.”
I kept notes on what was going on with him and after many GP, specialist and psychologist visits he was diagnosed with Dementia. I was told it would be beneficial to settle in one place instead of travelling. He also had diverticulosis and was in pain a lot of the time. His face was always red and the skin used to peel off in large pieces when he shaved. Early 2013 I purchased a house. Eventually his license was cancelled as his reflexes were really slow and he had lost his sense of distance and direction and backed into things and drove into ditches a couple of times. On occasions he couldn’t remember how to start the car. He was put on antipsychotic drugs for his extremely violent outbursts. Anything different I wanted him to try seemed to aggravate him. He couldn’t handle money anymore, and couldn’t add up simple numbers. He was suspicious of everything I did.
I decided I needed to see what I could do towards improving his health. I began researching dementia, and what areas of the brain are affected, and what the brain needs to function effectively.
Hubby wouldn’t try anything I suggested at this stage. His health had deteriorated to the extent where he would just sit in front of the TV (mostly with his eyes closed, he would get angry if I tried to get him to do anything else or if I turned the TV off. He wouldn’t talk to anyone, he wouldn’t answer me if I asked him a question, he didn’t want to change his clothes or shave, wouldn’t acknowledge his children or grandchildren, had stopped reading and doing crossword puzzles, wouldn’t drink anything, and he wouldn’t leave the house, not even to sit outside. At times he couldn’t get himself out of his lounge chair.
My health was also deteriorating by this time and I decided I needed to take care of myself so I could look after him instead of putting him in an aged care facility. I was eating 80% Paleo then; however I was still cooking Hubby’s favourite foods for him at this time.
In late 2014 I found Pete’s information and signed up to join the Tribe for the 10 weeks. My daughter and I attended the Paleo Way Tour in Brisbane in February 2015. I set the date to start for Friday 6 March as I had a wedding to attend on 4 March.
I decided this was the opportunity to change Hubby’s diet. He WAS going to eat paleo as that is what I was eating. I started off by taking sugars and grains out of his diet, and increasing his good fats and slowly increasing his green leafy vegetables. I didn’t want to start him on full Paleo as I had booked him in to a Respite centre for 2 weeks so I could have a break and knew that he would be back on the sugars and grains when he went there. After 3 weeks the doctor and I decided to take him off his antipsychotic drugs, as he wasn’t getting aggressive anymore. When I bought him home from Respite he started to eat 100% Paleo with me.
By 22nd June 2015, his GP had noticed positive changes in him and checked to see what he had changed medically – which he acknowledged was nothing. I told him I had changed his diet and that I had cut out all grains, sugars and dairy, and that he was eating grass fed meats and wild caught fish with lots of vegies and good fats like coconut oil and immediately he was concerned about his cholesterol (hubby is on Lipitor). He was also concerned about the amount of green leafy vegies he was eating as he is on Warfarin and the vitamin K affects the warfarin uptake, and he had to increase the dosage. I suggested he do a fasting cholesterol test to check his cholesterol.
On 17th July the doctor was amazed at the difference in him and again checked his files to see what he had changed and realised that his medication hadn’t changed at all. His blood test showed that his cholesterol was up very high. However the doctor couldn’t believe that his bad cholesterol was down the lowest it has been and his good cholesterol levels were up really high. He suggested that I keep him on the Paleo diet as that is the only thing he can see that it making him well.
On 14th August the doctor just shook his head when Hubby told him that we are going away for 4 weeks and that he is going to go gold detecting. He couldn’t believe how much of an improvement there was in his health. He told me once again to just keep him on the Paleo diet and that he will change his warfarin as needed. He has always been advised to keep his vitamin K intake very low as it does affect the warfarin intake.
Hubby went to his last doctor’s visit on his own this month, September, for the first time in over 2 years. He walked there and back, and told me what the doctor had said, which was “Don’t go off the diet or change what you are doing now!!” The doctor also asked him if he had seen his Geriatric doctor, for his Dementia, and said he can’t wait to hear what she has to say.
I have added a very small amount of rolled oats into his muesli as he won’t eat anything but cereal for breakfast. It is only so he will eat breakfast and hopefully I can omit it again in the future. I figure that if that is the only thing he is eating that isn’t paleo, I am happy to do it. I make him Chindii’s Cookies plus variations of them so he can still have something to dunk in his tea — which is now peppermint tea with stevia in it. For lunch, he has leftover soup or slow cooked meals, which I keep in the freezer all the time.
Hubby today – September 2015
- He hasn’t had diverticulosis since being on the Paleo diet
- He walks by himself every day without any prompting to do so
- He goes to the shop and remembers what he has to get
- He can handle money again
- He has joined the library and reads at least 3 books a week
- He can remember things now that he hadn’t remembered before. Even things about our travels around Australia, which he couldn’t remember before. I ask him things when I can’t remember and he can tell me
- The skin on his face doesn’t peel anymore
- He plays with the grandchildren all the time and loves having them around
- He can hold normal in-depth conversations with everyone, and doesn’t lose his train of thought
- He is taking an interest in the things he likes to do again
- He does the washing up, vacuuming and laundry when asked
- He doesn’t get angry any more
- He has more consideration
- He has lower cholesterol
- He doesn’t shuffle his feet now
- He is starting to do a bit in the garden again
- He loves going to our grandchildren’s soccer matches
- He enjoys visiting family and friends, and interacting with them
- When we eat out HE chooses to eat only the food without sugar, grains and dairy
- People who have known him for over 30 years have said they have obviously have never known the real person. He has changed so much, and everyone in our new hometown can’t believe the change in him
I don’t know what it was in his diet that was destroying him. I won’t ever know. He is staying on the Paleo way of eating and he is happy to do so. It has made so much difference in our lives, to ever change our way of eating.
Thank you Pete and the team for giving me all the information I needed to finally go 100% Paleo. I find your recipes so easy to make. Also thanks to the Tribe for your posts about your personal journeys, which I find inspiring.
If ever I need a reminder of why we are always going to eat this way, I just look at my husband laughing and joking with our children, and playing with our grandchildren.
How a change in diet has helped John’s dementia:
John finally decided to go off Lipitor, which has made me sooooo happy. His geriatrician was happy that he has gone off statins. We told her about his change in diet. She was very pleased with his tests that he did for her and she has halved his Alzheimer’s medication. If there is no change for the worse after a month he can go off of it completely. She has also told him to stay on this way of eating. Her only concern was that he wasn’t getting enough calcium but after I explained that he was having bone broth soup every day she said that it wouldn’t be a problem then, as he will be getting enough calcium from the bones. She advised us to not change anything in his diet as we’ve found something that is helping him considerably.
John’s thyroid medication is now down to quarter of what he was on. He is also off all blood pressure medication.
The following is a testimonial written by my husband, which in itself is amazing. It is exactly as he has written it no spell checks or change in grammar.
Hi. I am a 73yr old Grandfather of 7 grandchildren. 3yrs ago I was diagnosed with Dementia. I was devastated. Lost my drivers licence & thought my life was maybe over. I pushed all the ones I loved away from me & started to withdraw. I am on medication for dementia.
Gwen decided to cook Paleo for herself and she noticed her weight & her general wellbeing to improve so she introduced me to the Paleo Diet. After a while I also noticed an improvement in myself. I slowly came out of a fog.
I am now enjoying my children & grandchildren. I go for a walk everyday, I’ve joined the library & reading a lot. I don’t eat any processed food now all our food is prepared by Gwen, even coconut milk.
Is it the Paleo diet? I don’t know but my Dr said don’t change my diet because he has noticed a huge change in my demeanor & attitude to life in general.
I can only be grateful to Gwen for putting me on this diet. It’s been years since I’ve felt this way.
It can only get better, I know my dementia will not be cured but with proper diet I am sure I will live a long healthy productive life.
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