Dad took a fall about a year ago that resulted in two broken hands, a broken nose and a chipped tooth. Up until that time, he wasn’t on any medication. I would give him a little Valerian or Melatonin to sleep and vitamins in the morning with breakfast. But after the fall, his problems really began to cascade. Although he had significant memory loss he would still function relatively well on his own in the evenings, he could climb the stairs for dinner and take walks on his own.
But the fall changed all of that.
I discovered that his response to the pain medication for the broken hands was very unpleasant. He felt more anxious and disoriented and it didn’t seem to solve the pain issues so I scaled him back to just Aleve and Asprin. His sleeping was very sporadic as well – something I thought that the pain meds would help but they only made it worse.
So I asked his doctor for some Xanax to help him sleep. That worked for a while but his anxiety during the day got much worse. He was not able to function on his own at all anymore and he was restless and irritable most of the time. I had hoped that once the casts came off and the physical issues with the fall had been resolved he would be a bit more at ease but that didn’t happen.
I began giving him more and more Xanax during the day and at night but his tolerance was building and it wasn’t really solving the problem. He was on a roller coaster since the Xanax is pretty short lived. By last fall, he had also developed a tendency to see ‘false images’ (hallucinations) when his routine was disrupted in any way. Trips to a neurologist and a psychiatrist did not yield any significant help. The neurologist suggested Aricept which may have helped his cognition slightly but did nothing for his anxiety, lack of focus or insomnia.
I started “googling” meds for dementia and came up with Trazadone which was indicated for ‘all of the above.’ He’s been on it for a little over a month now and it has made a huge difference. We had stopped taking him out at all due to his increased anxiety following any outing. But the Trazadone has helped to level that off. The ‘false images’ are pretty much at bay for the moment and the Xanax is back to being used as a sleep aid with an occasional pill around sundown if he gets too restless.