We ALL make mistakes and none of us reacts perfectly all the time. That’s why I hate those lists that say “NEVER do this.” “Don’t EVER do that.” In an ideal world, we all would respond perfectly and know what to do all the time, but Dementialand is anything but an ideal world. We do our best.
I will never forget the day I gave my mom Benadryl for her allergies. An hour later we were in the ER. She couldn’t walk, her speech was slurred. I thought for sure she’d had a stroke. And that was super scary, because my dad died after having a massive stroke.
As it turns out, diphenhydramine aka Benadryl can cause confusion and mess with brain function in those with dementia and the ederly in general should be careful with it. While it’s such a common drug that it should be common knowledge, I’ve even met nurses, who didn’t know. I was actually attacked by one in a dementia group, who (despite the reams of information one can find on the subject), told everyone I was making it up, but that’s a story for another day. Thank God the ER doc did know and as soon as the medication wore off, my mom was okay just as he said she would be.
I, on the other hand, felt so horrible. I go out of my way to design brain healthy menus, make sure my mom has everything she needs, often putting her needs before my own. But no one had told me. Not her PCP, not her neurologist, not her geriatric psychiatrist, no one.
Now I know. Now the first thing I do when we get any new medication is check for contraindications and call the pharmacist before adding anything, even if it’s a “harmless” over the counter drug. I also make sure as part of the advocacy I do for older folks and caregivers to tell whoever will listen to be careful with it.
Do I still feel bad that it happened? A little, but I also know that I was doing the best I could with the information I had available to me at the time, so I try to give myself a little grace. You see, life is not about doing everything perfectly.
Our character isn’t even about doing everything perfectly either. It’s about how we handle tough situations, the times we’re tempted, the times we screw up, and what we to do respond and what we do to correct our errors. It’s not about never making mistakes. It’s about taking ownership and learning from them.
Here is a great article that delves a little further into the subject: