I just finished a thirty-five minute phone call with Susan Macklefresh, the Director of Nursing at Woodland Terrace. Susan was unbelievably kind, considerate, and caring. She told me that when my mom was transferred from Halifax Hospital on Friday, they had neglected to include in her chart what medications to administer, and that when a representative from Woodland Terrace called Halifax for a complete chart, they were (obviously) given an old and outdated list.

Perhaps even more frustrating was that Susan told me that Ida had called her yesterday — presumably prior to Ida’s call to Marie — and that she (Susan) had told Ida that my name was on the face sheet in my mom’s chart and she should absolutely freely discuss my mother’s medications and care with me. That fact that Ida did not do that, and / or did not instruct Paula to do that, and / or did not convey that information to Marie, is unforgivable.

Susan reviewed the list of my mother’s medication with me. My mom is still taking a handful of drugs for high blood pressure, hypertension, and gastrointestinal issues. I really have to simply trust the doctors completely on those — primarily because I don’t have the time to research all those. The psycho-pharmaceuticals, on the other hand, I have researched; and my wife has a Ph.D. in psychology. Susan believed me when I explained that my mother’s prescription for Aricept was discontinued many, many weeks ago. She agreed with me that Haldol is a drug from the Middle Ages of psychiatry and that the “as needed” part of my mother’s prescription should be revised to “never”.

I begrudgingly said that it was fine to continue giving my mother Namenda, mainly because I couldn’t find any dramatic negative side effects and — even though I’m convinced it’s only because the drug has an unusually powerful contingent of pharmaceutical sales reps pushing it — everyone seems to keep prescribing it for her.

And of course I said that I thought it was okay to continue giving her Zoloft. Because if there’s one thing I know for certain about the universe, it’s that my mother should be taking an anti-depressant.

Susan indicated that she was very glad to learn that my mother has someone that cares for her, and that she wasn’t another “dump and run”, which is the term they use to describe people whose family members leave them at a nursing home and then disappear.

I particularly am concerned about this quote from the NIH website:

Warning: Studies have shown that older adults with dementia (a brain disorder that affects the ability to remember, think clearly, communicate, and perform daily activities and that may cause changes in mood and personality) who take antipsychotics (medications for mental illness) such as haloperidol have an increased chance of death during treatment.

Haloperidol is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of behavior problems in older adults with dementia. Talk to the doctor who prescribed this medication if you, a family member, or someone you care for has dementia and is taking haloperidol.