Dr. Oz Missed the Warning Signs of His Mother’s Alzheimer’s. He Shares Them Here With You.
Last week on my show, I announced that my mother, Suna Oz, was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. When it happened a few months ago, it hit me like a gut punch because even though I’m a doctor, I missed the signs completely.
Hearing this diagnosis meant that the woman we know and love would start to disappear from us. We all saw my mom falling apart. One of my sisters noticed her makeup wasn’t perfect. My mother was giving things away to people she really didn’t know. She had difficulty using common words that were part of her vocabulary and instead would struggle to describe things—almost like mental jiu-jitsu to get to the word she really wanted to say. Once, she even asked us if we would move a sofa to a corner of the room for which it was clearly too large.
I wish I had recognized the signs in my mom so much earlier. That’s why I want to bring them to light so that you can look out for a friend or a loved one who may be at risk for Alzheimer’s disease. These are some warning signs that I want to make everybody aware of—courtesy of the Alzheimer’s Association.
- Memory loss that disrupts daily life
- Challenges in planning or solving problems
- Difficulty completing familiar tasks
- Confusion with time or place
- Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
- New problems with words in speaking or writing
- Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
- Decreased or poor judgment
- Withdrawal from work or social activities
- Changes in mood and personality
If somebody you love starts to display these signs, it’s important that you take action right away. I know you probably don’t want to be the one to say, “Hey, I think there might be something wrong,” but please, also know that early treatment can reduce the progression of the disease.
Also, plan for your own future. Alzheimer’s disease currently affects at least 5 million people in the U.S. and that number is expected to triple by 2060. Those numbers should be a wakeup call to remind you how important it is to think about prevention every single day.
First, look closely at your diet. We know from research that weight impacts your risk for Alzheimer’s disease, especially weight around the middle. The larger the belly is, the smaller the memory center in the brain.
Choose dark leafy greens, fatty fish such as salmon, nuts, and berries to help maintain a healthy weight and lower your risk for Alzheimer’s disease and other conditions. And know your numbers, since high cholesterol and high blood sugar are also linked to Alzheimer’s disease.
However, diet is only one part of the equation—you must stay active as well. More experts are recommending High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). HIIT involves training in short bursts of really intense movement, such as sprinting, with rests in between the bursts. This form of exercise has been shown to improve memory. Pair your HIIT workouts with meditation. Studies have shown that just eight weeks of mindful meditation can lower stress and anxiety while protecting the part of the brain that’s affected by Alzheimer’s disease.
Finally, I recommend that everybody begin Vitamin B12 and Omega-3 supplements. B12 is actually responsible for removing a chemical—homocysteine—from your blood and that can reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Empower yourself and the people around you, not only to recognize the warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease but also make some small powerful changes to your daily life that may help minimize memory loss as you age.
Below, watch Maria’s “Today Show” piece: Dr. Oz Opens Up About Missing Signs Of Mother’s Alzheimer’s