After more than 20 years as a judge, Madeline came to me distraught and miserable.
“I don’t know what’s wrong with me, but I can’t remember anything,” she confided in my office. “I sit in court all day, listening to testimony, and by that evening I’ve forgotten all of it and have to review the entire day’s conversations. And even then, it’s a struggle to recall what I just read! I’m thinking of taking early retirement because I can’t perform the duties of the job any longer.”
Clearly, early retirement was not something Madeline wanted to do. But she was in tears as she described how hard she had to work to remember the various points of each case. Having seen this frustration in quite a few older patients, I understood how difficult it is to experience memory failure. But I also knew that there was hope for Madeline. The key was finding out why she was having memory problems…
It didn’t take long! In fact, as soon as I asked which medications her previous doctor had prescribed, the answer was right there – Madeline’s blood pressure medication, Metoprolol, has been linked to memory loss, confusion, and insomnia, among other things.
We discussed better options for controlling Madeline’s blood pressure, and she was relieved to learn that making a few lifestyle changes and taking appropriate supplements could make a big difference. I also encouraged her to start taking 500 mg of curcumin and 3 grams of omega-3 EFAs every day. And just eight weeks after Madeline took her last Metoprolol, she returned to my office in a much better state than she had been during the first visit.
“I had convinced myself that I had early-onset Alzheimer’s. I really did not think that one medicine was responsible for my memory problems, but I was wrong!” she told me. “My memory gets better every day. It’s still not as sharp as it was, but I think it will be eventually. From now on, I’m not taking any prescription medication until I read about the side effects and look into alternatives.”
The last time I spoke to Madeline during her annual physical, she was no longer worried about early retirement or memory issues. In fact, she was preparing to teach a course at one of the area law schools and volunteering with a literacy program.
“Now that I don’t have to read everything fourteen times to remember it, I’ve got time to work in the community and volunteer for things that are important to me. And to think I was ready to give up! The difference you’ve made in my life is something I’ll never forget.”