|By Courtney Llewellyn|
Reminder Assistant Editor
"How's your mom?"
This question is an easy enough way to start a conversation, but it's not easy for Dr. Linda T. Nelson to answer. Her mother is currently in the last stages of Alzheimer's Disease. "She's physically quite healthy, but there's no recognition there," she replied. "But she has a really strong heart."
Nelson, a naturopathic doctor, has recently released a book called "Losing Mom: A Holistic Approach to Healthy Aging," and will be speaking on the topic at various venues throughout the region. She said it has taken her six years to write her book about healthy aging because she's been "waiting for a conclusion" to her mother's illness.
"There's a lot out about the trauma of Alzheimer's, but not a lot with how to deal with someone in the middle of it," Nelson said. That's why her book is written for both those aiming to prevent Alzheimer's Disease and the caregivers who tend to those who already have it.
"There are 40 million Americans with Alzheimer's or dementia right now. That's 40 million families that need a little emotional care," she said.
Nelson decided to take the holistic approach to healing after a childhood filled with illness and ineffective treatments. Her mother, who was a registered nurse, automatically went with medicine to solve any health issue, but the problem with a lot of medicine is that it only treats symptoms, not causes, and often creates more problems in their wakes, according to Nelson.
"Being really ill in the 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, you did what the family doctor told you to do and didn't think of looking or anything else," Nelson told Reminder Publications, "but at some point, something clicks in your head. At 38, for the first time I realized I could be in charge of my own health."
At that point in her life, Nelson had been living with undiagnosed fibromyalgia, a chronic disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain, fatigue and tenderness in localized areas, had been through numerous surgeries and was taking more than 30 prescriptions a day. She traveled to California from her home state of Utah "where chiropractors were still illegal in the 1970s" and met with a naturopathic doctor.
"He said everything wrong [with my health] came from having a toxic body," Nelson said, "and I realized it was true. I was skeptical at first, but I stayed a week and in that short time, saw a huge change in my health.
"If you want to be healthy, you don't have to look hard to find it," she continued. "You just need to find someone to teach you how to do it."
Nelson took her teacher's lessons to heart and developed lifestyle change programs through her M'lis Company, a supplier of superior nutritional and body products. She knows that if her mother had followed a holistic lifestyle, she would not have Alzheimer's today.
"I write on things I'm intimately connected to," she stated. "[With Alzheimer's,] there has not been a lot of information for preventative lifestyles or caregiving. I think [my new book] helps other going through it."
During her local lectures, Nelson will be speaking on diseases that break the body down, like Alzheimer's, "living as long as you can and being as healthy as you can," and having open question and answer sessions.
"She is a wonderful, warm lady," Peggy Hoime, a life coach from Alternative Health, the group sponsoring Nelson's talks. "She walks what she talks."
Nelson will be at the Storrs Library in Longmeadow on Sept. 4 at 10:30 a.m., at the Holiday Inn in Holyoke at 7 p.m. and on Sept. 5 at the Agawam Library at 10:30 a.m. All her lectures are free, but registration is required. Call Alternative Health at 569-1155 to register.
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