REGION — Alzheimer’s has long been viewed as a one-way street. Once a loved one’s signs of cognitive decline start to appear, the disease will continue to worsen until it is ultimately fatal. But what if it didn’t have to? That is the question Dr. Heather Sandison, ND, is answering in her work helping patients in her medical practice prevent and reverse cognitive decline. That led to an even bigger question — what would happen if dementia patients were provided an immersive experience that had the potential to reverse cognitive decline? From there, Marama, a new residential facility for patients with dementia, was born.
Dr. Sandison is the founder of North County Natural Medicine in Encinitas where the focus of her work is utilizing a groundbreaking protocol to help patients fight back against cognitive decline. The Bredesen Protocol is based on the work of Dr. Dale Bredesen, who was one of the first to discuss prevention and reversal of cognitive decline. Dr. Sandison studied under him learning about neurocognitive optimization and how all components of one’s life affect the mind and brain.
“The first Bredesen patient I saw a drastic change in, I was in disbelief. I cried,” she said. “She came in with her husband with the classic signs of Alzheimer’s. Her handwriting was affected, she would start to answer my questions and forget what I asked before she could answer. After three weeks of treatment her handwriting was back to normal and she was bickering with her husband about something that had happened the night before.”
Marama is a one-of-a-kind facility that opened its doors this month. Dr. Sandison had been considering the idea for some time, as many patients asked her where they could send a loved one for care if they didn’t have the capacity to do it themselves. “I found a few places, but nowhere that was really integrating the Bredesen lifestyle,” she said. “This includes a mostly plant-based, keto, organic diet, a nontoxic environment and robust social and brain stimulation.”
Also setting Marama apart from other senior care facilities is that the goal isn’t for residents to find a permanent home there, but to reintegrate back into independent living using the tools they pick up over six to 12 months in residential treatment.
“Sometimes it’s a spouse who needs a break, or an adult child, who doesn’t want to see their loved one decline but isn’t able to give them what they need to improve or maintain their cognitive abilities,” Dr. Sandison said. “We provide the space, food, staff, amenities and experience to implement the lifestyle changes necessary to have a chance at reversing cognitive decline.”
The staff at Marama is dedicated to reversing and preventing the progression of Alzheimer’s dementia. “We offer an experience encompassing the best-in-class strategies currently known to have the ability to recover brain function,” Dr. Sandison said. Marama offers individualized attention, around the clock care by trained caregivers, coordination of house calls and medical services by Bredesen trained providers, education, social interaction and brain games and more.
“The house itself has beautiful eastern facing views, an indoor and outdoor kitchen that is perfect for teaching residents to cook, greenhouses and an herb garden,” Dr. Sandison said.
Marama has space for 12 residents, and they are currently accepting applications. “We are looking for residents who are excited to engage with and contribute to their communities and families,” Dr. Sandison said.
To learn more about Dr. Sandison and Marama, call (760) 505-3019 or visit maramaexperience.com. Marama is located at 727 Ascot Drive in Vista.