‘I missed the signs’: Dr. Oz opens up on mother’s painful Alzheimer’s diagnosis

Sep 10, 2019
Dr. Mehmet Oz is urging others to pay close attention to their loved ones after his mother's diagnosis. Source: Getty

Dr. Mehmet Oz might be one of the world’s most famous medical experts, but the television personality has now revealed that his 81-year-old mother, Suna, has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease – and he “completely missed the signs”.

“I talk about Alzheimer’s disease a lot. We discuss the risk factors often on the show. We update viewers on new prevention tips and what doctors know about new treatments for the disease. But when it came to my own family, I completely missed the signs of one of the most feared diseases,” the host of The Dr. Oz Show revealed in a moving and lengthy post on his official website.

The 59-year-old cardiac surgeon, whose father died in February, said hearing the official diagnosis was heartbreaking, “But just as painful for me was the realisation that the signs were there all along – I had just been overlooking them”.

Oz went on to say signs he missed included the fact that his mother had recently become more stubborn, started doing her make-up differently and gave away some of her belongings to near-strangers, adding: “But these seemingly subtle changes were in fact the first indicators of Alzheimer’s.”

He continued: “It was painful to admit that my mother’s health was declining, but doing so allowed us to get her help as soon as possible. You have the power to speak up and say something if you suspect any of the above symptoms in a loved one. Doing so may be uncomfortable, but it just might help slow down the Alzheimer’s progression in someone you love.”

The medical expert also listed “six early symptoms you should never ignore”, which included challenges in planning, difficulty completing tasks, confusing time and place, problems with words, trouble understanding visuals and misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps.  Through his mother’s diagnosis, Oz also learned the he carries one of the genes for Alzheimer’s.

Many fans in similar scenarios have since shared messages of encouragement, with one writing: “My grandma has it as well. It is so sad to watch. But enjoy the moments and memories you still have with each other.”

Another added: “My mom’s story is almost exactly the same. It came shortly after my daddy’s passing. It’s so difficult.” While a third wrote: “My mother, grandmother, aunt, uncle and sister all have had this horrendous disease. It’s heartbreaking and we need to find a cure!”

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, with more than 342,000 Australians living with it. The disease causes problems with memory, thinking and behaviour.

There’s currently no prevention or cure for most forms of dementia, but medication can reduce some symptoms. It’s always important to discuss dementia with a health professional and to see whether any medication or treatment is available to ease symptoms.

Meanwhile, it comes a month after researchers developed a new blood test that can detect early brain changes associated with the cognitive condition. The blood test is 94 per cent accurate and is one step closer to clinical use after researchers from Washington University School of Medicine found a way to measure levels of the Alzheimer’s protein amyloid beta in the blood – and whether or not the protein has accumulated in the brain.

The findings, published in the Neurology Journal, reveal the blood test could be available within a few years and offer another way of detecting the beginnings of amyloid deposition in the brain – which is currently detected through a PET brain scan. While there’s currently no cure for Alzheimer’s, it could allow those showing early signs of the disease to participate in clinical trials or start other treatments that can lessen symptoms.

Important information: The information provided on this website is of a general nature and information purposes only. It does not take into account your personal health requirements or existing medical conditions. It is not personalised health advice and must not be relied upon as such. Before making any decisions about your health or changes to medication, diet and exercise routines you should determine whether the information is appropriate in terms of your particular circumstances and seek advice from a medical professional.

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