I wake up with a headache and I go to my medicine cabinet for two extra strength Excedrin and get on with my day. I do not think twice about taking something for my headache.
When you have dementia your medicine cabinet gets a little more complicated. Unfortunately the few medications on the market for Alzheimer’s do not work for my dad. Not only do they not work, he has every side effect listed on the package insert. Literally all of them!
Like many people my dad’s age, he takes a lot of medicine: heart medicine, blood pressure medicine, vitamins and a sedative . . . just to name a few.
Not only has my dad been cursed with dementia, he also suffers from depression. I do not know a lot about depression but I know that it is common. I know that it is a form of mental illness and I know that it is nothing to be ashamed of! I bet we all know more people than we can count that suffer from some type of depression.
So why am I writing about medicine? I am not a doctor or a pharmacist but I have learned a lot about medicine and its impact on my father.
For reasons unknown to us, my dad does not tolerate antidepressants. I do not know if the medications reacts poorly with the his brain disease or if it is just another chemical reaction that happens with my dad.
The depression that my dad suffers from causes him to cry and feel worthless. It is pitiful to see and because of his dementia he is not capable of understanding that he is actually a wonderful man who had a very successful career.
My mother has a very difficult time watching my dad as he sinks into a pool of self-pity. She wants to help him and the only thing she knows to do is call his internist and get an antidepressant for him.
Good move? Bad move?
Hard to say. He does not cry as often and that is certainly a good thing.
Now my father wanders. That is a bad thing.
You see, the antidepressant may be helping his outlook on life but the chemical reaction in his body makes him agitated and causes him to want to roam. My dad is very fragile and not too steady on his feet but when he decides to roam he can be pretty darn quick! When he remembers, he walks with a walker but one night two weeks ago, he managed to walk down three flights of stairs and go stand out in the rain. Funny how he can get “the hell out of Dodge” when he wants to!
So should my dad be taking an antidepressant? It all depends on who you ask.
My mom confided in their internist and he carefully prescribed a medicine that should and may be helping my dad’s depression. We encouraged my mom to contact his neurologist to see if she agreed with the new prescription but I am unsure if that conversation ever took place.
It is so important to know what is in your medicine cabinet and how one prescription might interact with another medication. If you are like me and do not have a medical degree or a vast knowledge of prescriptions, consult someone who does have this knowledge.
Do your homework. Don’t trade one side effect for another.
Excedrin may help my headache but it might not do a thing for yours.