Follow
Share

She has Dementia but these are not Dementia drugs per-se. I am my Mother's Primary and only caregiver. Mom has Dementia... to the point of not talking much, not eating much, drinks a little tea and chocolate milk. She is starting to have a hard time swallowing her pills. Chocolate Milk works better than water, and breaking up 4 pills into having her take two pills at a time seems to help. None of the pills are very large. She is 80 and started to have a large decline this past November (2015). She is physically weak and needs help getting up the 8 steps to the level of the house the bedrooms are on (The house is a Tri-level). She is shaky and she is frail. She was NOT this way until she had her first fall, in the bathroom on Saturday December 12th. I did have a Hospice RN come to help me get her up. This is the first fall and I don't have a medical background. The Hospice RN and I got her to bed. The RN checked her over and said nothing was broken- she would be sore but should be OK. The RN took her BP- was 112/42, the RN did not like the 42 said it was low. She also took a pulse ox reading the O2 was in the mid 80's. She said it should be 90 or better. She ordered a walker and a wheel chair. Mom used the walker on Thursday but seems to be a bit stronger these last couple days and doesn't use the walker. Mom really needed it on Thursday.

Mom has Vertigo and can no longer express when she is dizzy. She has taken a med called Meclizine for years and it always works great. Mom also has had high blood pressure that is in the normal range with medications and has been stable since January 2014. She takes Atenonol, Lispironil and Hydrochlorothaizide. She has been taking Diazepam at bedtime for a few years... it DID help with sleep. Early last month she started to go to bed earlier and then get up a few hours later and think it was the next day (even though it was dark outside). After awhile this happened every night. Her PCP (a very good Hospice MD that deals mostly with the elderly) started her on Trazodone (a SNRI Antidepressant) 50 mg to be given at 8 pm.. this was to help with the waking up and thinking it was daylight when it was dark. This has worked very well.
Mom has been on Aricept since June of 2013 - she had a different PCP then- There was trouble increasing her Aricept from 5 to 10 mgs. She had physical side effects. Eventually she was getting very aggressive with me and finally went to 10 mgs. That helped with the aggression. Next she was to start Namenda XR (for the PCP she had - that PCP left the clinic to work in a hospital setting this past fall). Namenda XR was not a good med for her- once again the side effects. She had bad side effects so she was taken off of it.

The Aricept was recently stopped as the Hospice RN that came the night of Mom's Fall discussed it with Mom's Hospice Dr who is also her PCP. Our Weekly Hospice RN came last Wednesday and said we can stop the Aricept.
So her meds right now are in the AM Atenonol, Lisinopril, Hydrochlorothiazide, 1 Tylenol, and 1 Meclizine. In evening by 8 PM she has Diazepam, Trazodone, 1 Tylenol and 1 Meclizine. Note: I started giving her 1 Meclizine AM and PM since she fell. Prior to her fall she did not take Meclizine on a regular basis -it is written "as needed".

There are to be two new prescriptions written that will be filled tomorrow. As Mom ages she is very physically touchy with new meds.
1 med is Remeron (a SNRI Antidepressant that usually leads to weight gain) to help with her appetite. I think this may be alright - as she does not want to eat much ever. The 2nd med is the one that I wonder about-- which is Norco for pain. Mom has not been grimacing, verbally saying oww, or moaning. She is not laying in bed for hours and never getting up. I think Norco might have been helpful for the day's immediately following her fall (December 12.) It's been 9 days since she fell so why Norco now- sounds like she will be taking them everyday. Had her PCP or an RN did a through examination and saw evidence (things an non-medical person could not see) I would be more confident about the Norco. Norco is a narcotic med for moderate to severe pain....
On the other hand she has lost the ability express pain to me verbally either - although I have heard an oww in the past.

Anyone have any thoughts? Am I just being hyper-vigilant about this?

(PS She has Hospice for Palliative care-- she is not to the point of needing Hospice yet- she has a very non-aggressive Ovarian Cancer- has not changed in size or spread since it was found on a CT Scan in February of this year. Took us totally by surprise as she was very vocal then and never had pain. She refused to have surgery for the cancer. Its her body and her life.. I respect her choice)

This question has been closed for answers. Ask a New Question.
Hi Pamstegma I really appreciate your comment. I am keeping a log of her BP, HR and any changes or comments. Waiting for the pulse ox to come from Amazon.com. I don't have one - the Hospice RN's are the ones that have them and use them here. The Hospice RN was here today and I printed out a copy of my log for her to keep (she will input some of the information into her laptop)- all the Hospice RN's at this Hospice have small laptops. She shared your approach about going easy with the Norco.. I am spacing it out. 1 in AM and 1 at bedtime... I am watching her closely..if she shows she is in pain then I will have to consider another Norco or maybe Tylenol between the two doses. Of course I will call my Hospice RN if I am not sure or have questions. They are very good about calling or texting (if they are with another patient they have to text to say they will call later). Thanks for the reminder of how to check the skin on the back of her hand for dehydration... I remember that from somewhere but it alludes me right now. She was up quite a bit today - she also ate more than she has in awhile. Drank more than she had been. Skin test came out good tonight - but I'll make sure to keep an eye on it. GLAD you brought it up for sure.
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

Hi Joannes Thank you for your detailed answer. I do keep an updated list of Mom's meds in my computer - easy to make changes when they happen and much easier for others to read once it is printed out. She has only one doctor he is her Hospice Doctor and seeing Mom's PCP left town, her Hospice Doctor is also her PCP. This happened about two months ago. He is the only one writing scripts for her. There are no other Doctors involved. But I think it is important to have a up to date listing of meds and allergies for when she has respite stays.
I don't see them keeping her on the Norco for very long... she is hurting when she tries to get up from a sitting position... no words but the look on her face tell me and the Hospice people what she is really feeling. I am all for Tylenol and have nothing other than that in the house. We stopped taking NSAIDs unless it is absolutely necessary (last resort).
The Trazodone is a big help - it helps her sleep for the night and she is not getting up at midnight thinking it is noon. Pitch Black outside but she's convinced it is noon... OK Mom whatever you say.. I'll pick my battles with her for something seriously important.
The Remeron got filled but I didn't start it... Started with the Norco- just starting with one medication at a time - to see what type of side effects might happen. I am not giving it 3 times and a 4th time at bedtime if necessary. RN today said it was good to start her off with twice a day and see how it goes. If she needs it, really needs it I certainly will give it to her. Not too sure about the Remeron... it is the smallest dose they make.. but will have to think on that one a bit. I do have a bit of experience with antidepressant and psyche type drugs...I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder many years ago (lived in a populated area then and still do- but I am here at our second home taking care of Mom right now)... it took almost 9 years to find the right medication combination that would work for me. None of the SSRI's at the time (and there were many of them) gave a response. Wellbutrin was a very good partial response and then a small dose of Adderall was added. Together they make up my antidepressant. These last few years it has been Wellbutrin and Vyvanse. Our second home is in my mom's home town it's very rural (more like a forest) nearest hospital is about ~ 40 min. Not an abundance of Doctors in this area of the state either. So it's not like living in a populated area where a person has several different Dr's and others working as a team. I have only one treatment team and that team is Hospice. I have dealt with Hospice before, when my brother was dying (complications from MS). This was in another part of the state. They were very good and the Hospice I am dealing with right now they are very good also. As I told Ferris1 we are using Senokot-S to keep the stool soft and combat constipation. If that proves not to be what is needed the Hospice RN and MD will help find something else that does the job without being overly harsh.
Her pulse ox numbers are back in the mid to high 90's it was in the 80's when it was taken right after her fall. She has no lung problems - non smoker.
Thanks so much for your reply.
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

Kudos to you Northwoods and Ferris!
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

Ferris1 I have read responses from you on many questions and you always have something of value to say. Mom is taking Senekot-S to help with trying to avoid the constipation situation. So far her bowels are moving pretty good (all her life she has swung from diarrhea to constipation). If this proves to be no longer helpful I will seek out something else that would be appropriate for her situation, obviously I will be talking to RN's, Pharmacists and her PCP/Hospice MD. Yes I know this is a losing battle but I am not in a battle- why battle something that I will never have a snowballs chance in hell of winning. The writing is on the wall....things are what they are.. I just want to keep her as comfortable as possible - her decline is very serious this time- I do see signs of some end stage symptoms but just a couple. All the legal paper work is in place. Hospice has all the legal documents- made by my mother and her lawyer many years ago. No feeding tubes, no extraordinary measures to prolong "the losing battle" and a DNR is in place. Believe me I have no desire to try to "make" her live. She told me and 3 doctors (all of this when her Ovarian Cancer was diagnosed last February) that she is ready for the Lord to take her home. Who am I to want to make her stay in for lack of a better word "Hell" that she is living now and it's just going to get worse...its the nature of the disease. I just hope I can take care of her until she passes. There is a real possibility she will need more care than I can provide before she leaves this life. Many healthy people find themselves having to place a loved one... but I myself have Major Depressive Disorder with Anxiety- for several years now. It is medically managed - and I have been stable for quite sometime....but SOMETIMES I notice little things creeping in and work hard to nip them in the bud. I am on top of it for now and take my medicine religiously.
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

Well so much for the little bit of time I had a bit ago...LOL we all know how that goes right :) Mom has went to bed so let see what I can get done.

JessieBelle: First of all Thank You for your reply. I totally agree with what you said about her blood pressure...We went through a time back in 2012 where Mom's BP started to become very high. She had been to see her PA because her lower back hurt. Scripts for Ultram and Ibuprofen 600 mgs were written.. Not long after that her blood pressure started to climb...Was not long and the Ultram was gone but the Ibuprofen was still in on her list of meds. Ibuprofen can have an effect on her BP meds. Here are her blood pressures from that time:
MOM’S BP FACTS
11/22/13 BP 176/74 Ultram 50 mg 1 tab every 4 to 6 hrs IBUPROFEN 600 1 EVERY 6
12/03/13 BP 177/83 IBUPROFEN 600 1 EVERY 6
12/17/13 BP 179/99 Same as above
12/20/13 BP 207/91 Same as above
12/23/13 BP 156/66 IBUPROFEN STOPPED AT MY REQUEST – TYLENOL INSTEAD
1/17/14 BP 135/72 BP meds are the same as now
3/8/14 BP 116/62 BP Meds are the same as now

Her blood pressure stayed near the normal range since March 2014. Had I not spoke up to the PA about the Ibuprofen would her blood pressure ever came down? I am no genius I just know how to research the Internet.
I can assure everyone that has replied that I have already started taking corrective action as her RN was here today. We discussed the HCTZ - she said take her off for awhile and watch her blood pressure. If it stays low then the Dr will likely remove one of the two remaining BP meds. I think the HCTZ is not appropriate- BP is low and she is not drinking as much as she did. Seems to lend itself to possible/probable dehydration.
As far as the Hospital Bed... this could be a plan BUT a question is, how will Mom feel about it? Some people will say too bad she will have to do it BUT I SAY she is my Mother and her feelings will be considered in this situation. Doesn’t mean the situation will go the way she wants but it does mean I will take her feelings into account. There will likely come a time in the future that I will have to do things that she is not going to be happy about. Sad part is she does not really understand many of the things in her life now. This will be a Major change. I’ll be talking to her Hospice group about the Hospital Bed
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

I would be keeping a log of the BP, HR and O2 saturation. If the BP is low I would skip the BP meds dose and make a note of that. I would also pinch up the skin on her hand to check for dehydration. If the skin stays up, I would hold the diuretic and enter that in the log. Be sure you go over the logs with the nurse. Norco I would start, but if it makes her too sleepy or constipated, I would space the doses further apart, log it and alert the nurse.
Helpful Answer (3)
Report

Thank You everyone for your responses.. I will try to address a few things while I have a few minutes to be here.
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

If she's not drinking well, that HCTZ (hydrochlorothiazide) is the LAST blold pressure med she needz. HCTZ is a diuretic...meaning that it reduces blood pressure by pulling excess fluid off through the kidneys, ie. they pee more. Trouble is, HCTZ continues to do its job whether the person is taking in sufficient fluids or not. In your Mom's case, sounds like not. That would certainly contribute to a low blood pressure and/or mild to moderate dehydration, both of which can cause or add to dizziness.

Considering your Mom is still at least somewhat ambulatory, I'm surprised they're adding the Norco. That will DEFINITELY add to her dizziness!!! If it were me, where she's not showing any clear signs of discomfort, I'd be inclined to give Tylenol & Motrin on an alternating schedule...Tylenol every 4 hours & Motrin every 6 hrs. Both are available in liquid form, too, which would be easier for Mom to take...and neither one has sedating effects or would increase her vertigo.
Helpful Answer (2)
Report

My husband takes the drug and he has no problems with it. He is a 65 y.o. man that suffers from inherited clinical depression.
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

Trazadone is a VERY old tri-cyclic antidepressant, rarely, if ever used as an antidepressant because therapeutic doses are so high you'd be a zombie on it. It's used now almost exclusively to help with sleep. Again, 50 mgs is a very small dose. Of all the drugs she taking, the trazadone would be the very least of my concerns. Just my opinion.
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

Trazodone is an anti depressant.
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

It sounds as if you have a pretty good relationship with your mother's healthcare professionals, both nurses and doctors? That being so, I would suggest that you discuss any concerns you have with the prescribing doctor. Certainly do not overrule or ignore instructions without at the very least telling them you plan to do that. If, after discussion, you're still not happy with the care plan then say so and tell them why. They owe you a clear explanation of their reasoning, so don't be afraid to insist on getting one; but don't second-guess them unless you have an incredibly good reason for it. And monitor her progress once you start them to spot any adverse side-effects early on, then you can report them and either the dose or the format can be adjusted as necessary.

Just to add to Leah's point about crushing - as well as the modified release formats which dispense their contents over a protracted period of time, some others such as PPIs have to get past the stomach undigested to work - so do check the patient information leaflet before you crush, or ask your pharmacist. There's usually a way round swallowing difficulties so it's worth finding out.

You are right to be vigilant, never apologise for that. I hope these new meds prove helpful to your mother, best wishes to you.
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

So sorry. You have Hospice for a reason. I've been told that even if a patient feels no pain, the medical staff can tell when they r. 80 in pulse ox is low. Means she is not getting enough oxygen. Norm is 95 and above. Moms is checked all the time. At this point wondering why they r worried about her appetite.
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

Lot of good advice given above. Would recommend also that she have her pills crushed if possible if she is having trouble swallowing..most pills can be crushed unless they are extended release type medications..would need to check with a pharmacist. Might also consider a speech and swallow evaluation at a hospital if she's having trouble swallowing and /or is coughing frequently (dementia patients forget how to swallow.) good luck! Sounds like you are on top of the meds which is excellent!
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

I totally agree all that has been mentioned. It is true that at this time is almost wasting money for the Aricept & Namenda. In early stages they are good...but they so become ineffective. Just as it is important to introduce only add one med a time, taking away one gives you & her PCP an idea. Yes, everyone agrees,make a list for dr. Including vitamins & any other supplements. A note for the meds she does end up with, those that can be crushed, do that and give them to her in pudding or applesauce so she doesn't realize she is taking...make sure it is something sweet. One of those single serving size is good. Don't tell it is med. It might come to the point you might have to eat one too so she doesn't realize it is meds. Any capsule can be opened & sprinkled on whatever you are using.
God bless you through this journey. Definitely enjoy her while you have her. Please take time for yourself..it's ok to enjoy the Holiday Season & include her with what you feel you both she can handle.
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

wow--you have your hands full.
Her BP is really low, that can contribute to dizziness---I'd also question the need for HPB medication at this point.
That is a low dose of Trazadone, but if is helps her sleep....also the antivert makes many people drowsy (altho it is the first line of defense for chronic dizziness). What dose of Norco? That is hydrocodone and Tylenol, and can be a pretty potent pain reliever if she's in pain, BUT she's on so many other drugs that can cause dizziness--I'd definitely talk to the pharmacist (no offense to drs, but I have gotten my BEST medicine usage advice from Pharmacists!) The Remeron seems almost pointless, if she is eating so little now, its side effect of weight gain is only in those who take it and then eat more--most "weight gain" side effects from SNRI's are anecdotal anyway and we're talking 2-3 lbs, not 20.
Gosh--at this point I would try to keep her comfortable and let her sleep as much as she wants. It's scary to see someone go downhill at a rapid rate, but that is often what happens. Listen to Hospice, if they are a part of your team. It may be time to simply use palliative care and let nature take its course.
Good luck with all this---
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

I generally agree with most of the posts based on my experiences with my parents.

Ferris1 summarizes well. I believe she is a retired RN as I am. The less meds the better. Here is what I learned with my parents' trip through this dementia....

1. At a certain point it does not help to stay on the Aricept and Namenda

2. Meds that are constipating DO cut down on the desire to eat, and cause other problems. If pain has let up from the fall, ask why not switch to tylenol or advil...as non narcotics. If narcotic is needed, give it with colace to keep the stool soft so it will pass through easier, or you will get into issues of needing laxative or enemas which really disrupts intestinal functioning.
3. I agree with asking for a trial of taking away at least a couple of the blood pressure meds....as too low of a blood pressure causes dizziness by itself....aside from also having other meds on board that cause dizziness and a diagnosis of vertigo as well.
4. I would keep Mom walking with the walker all the time, especially since you say the dizziness/vertigo comes on without warning. Falling can always cause a break in older people, and with dementia, creating a habit of safety usage is much easier for the brain than the notion of we'll use it today, but we don't need it tomorrow.... for the same reason, I also agree with thinking about moving the bed downstairs, or creating a way that all her 'living' is on one level....in anticipation of her getting weaker over time. The real key here is to be anticipating the need for increased safety before the fall or the need for more support.
5. My Dad was on the Trazadone to help him sleep longer at night and it worked well. I recommend printing out a list of all prescribed meds to give to ALL doctors regularly, because as the elderly get into such an array of drugs prescribed....some are contraindicated with others, especially among the antidepressant and other psych type drugs....and any one doctor may not have knowledge of one another ordered, if YOU are not extra careful to tell them about every drug. Sometimes, just seeing a list, helps them see that certain things could be discontinued or at least cause a better assessment of everything going on.
6. The appetite issue and having problems with swallowing, needs to be considered carefully....how and what to feed, how to provide what Mom especially enjoys, to get her to eat enough, and an awareness that nutrition is important for energy and strength to 'keep on keeping on'. Also, what is the reason for the low pulse ox numbers....her level of oxygen in her blood is also important to not being dizzy and falling and for her brain to be functioning as well as possible.....so YES that number needs to be up above 90%....mid 90's are considered normal, if there is no chronic lung condition. I am glad that hospice is involved and that you have acess to their RN to help assess and recommend things to discuss with the doctors. I do think you need to be vigilant over all the drugs and medical stuff....not because you'll get her better, because as ferris1 says, there IS no cure or fix for dementia, but you want to maintain her abilities as long as possible, so her days can be as positive as can be for as long as possible. Use your resources via hospice as they are generally wonderful people to have on your treatment team.
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

First if all.take her off the blood pressure medication, HCTZ, and trazadone. No wonder her blood pressure is so low . Do not give her norco, you are already giving her valium and antivert. The trazodone alone is the reason she is sleeping so much. Also, trazodone caused medical Parkinson's Disease and she was unable to walk at all. That medicine is dangerous and should never be given to elderly patients. Your mother is at her very end stage. The inability to swallow, no appetite, moaning are all end stage signs. H*ll no dont give her anymore sedating medications including the pain pill norco. She isn't in pain they moan and don't even realize they are moaning. My mother started those symptoms abd she died 16 days later.
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

Most of the drugs she is taking are constipating which will back up feces in her colon and make her uncomfortable as well as decrease her appetite. They also will contribute to dizziness causing falls. The SSRI antidepressant you mentioned will definitely give her constipation. Her blood pressure is too low and perhaps the med for lowering it should be discontinued. There is NO drug that will slow, diminish or change this dementia progression and is always fatal. As the disease progresses her ability to speak will stop due to the brain not getting signals from neurons. Do what you can, but in my opinion you are fighting a losing battle. Love her for the time she has left and know you tried your best. None of us caregivers win the dementia battle.
Helpful Answer (4)
Report

Remeron is used to help with sleep just like trazodone. If she combines these two she'll sleep for days. I'd check with a pharmacist before combining.
Helpful Answer (2)
Report

BTW, are you open to having hospice put in a hospital bed downstairs? You will probably find it much easier than getting her upstairs as she becomes weaker. (I guess OTOH you could have her spend her days upstairs. That would work, too.)
Helpful Answer (2)
Report

Northwoods, sunnygirl brought up a very good point. People's bp often drops as they near the end of their lives and the medications are no longer needed. In fact, they may make the bp too low. Ask your mother's doctor what he thinks about getting her off of them. They could be added back on if the bp begins to get too high.
Helpful Answer (2)
Report

Sunnygirl1 She takes these meds for High Blood Pressure that has been in the normal range for quite some time- with the help of these medications. I am planning on discussing her BP meds with her RN when she visits this week. She will contact Mom's PCP and perhaps she needs a lower dose or to have med adjustments. I agree if the blood pressure is too low then maybe taking these meds needs to be discussed with PCP.
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

Do you know why she's taking Lispinoril and Hydrochlorothiazid, if her blood pressure is so low? The nurse noted her BP at 112/48. Does she need both? My cousin came off one of these when her blood pressure started showing up low.
Helpful Answer (5)
Report

Thank You jeannegibbs.. great idea about starting one med at a time to see if it gives bad side effects.. then we know which med is the culprit. Talked to her RN and we are starting the Norco first then the Remeron. Filled both scripts and have them at home now. Thanks for your response
Helpful Answer (2)
Report

As I understand it, the care she is getting now is for comfort, not really for curing anything. A pain pill is certainly for her comfort. Since she cannot verbalize her pain levels I would err on the side of over-treating, unless and until the pain pill proves to have unacceptable side-effects. If it turns her into a zombie, then I'd object and ask for something else. But if the doctor thinks this is prudent, I'd go along with it and see how she reacts.

It sounds like Remeron is being suggested the same way Trazodone is -- for its side-effects rather than its primary purpose. Would eating a bit more and gaining a little weight add to her comfort level?

I have no medical training. Most of us on this board do not. (A few do.) I am reacting just from my own experience. I see no harm in trying these two medications and watching carefully for side effects. (For that reason I would NOT start the two at the same time. How would you know which one caused a side-effect?) If they don't work or cause side effects, just ask the doctor to stop them.

If swallowing pills is difficult for Mom, you really don't want to add anything that doesn't contribute to her comfort. But how will you know without trying.
Helpful Answer (3)
Report

This question has been closed for answers. Ask a New Question.