Should I have some wine with my Xanax?

We should all be aware of medication side effects and interactions.  It’s important to know what we should or should not take with our prescribed medications or even many over the counter medications.  Some medications have shown to have lower efficacy or dangerous side effects when mixed with certain foods or beverages.  The one beverage that has the most potential to create dangerous situations with many medications is alcohol.

This list from Simplemost is a good quick reference for many interactions.  I would go a step further and recommend speaking with your pharmacist about specific counter-indications for the medications you are currently taking.  Don’t forget to mention any over the counter medications and/or supplements you may be taking as well when speaking with your pharmacist.

Nothing’s better than comfort food

There’s something special about sitting down to a hearty soup when the weather’s cold and blustery outside.  I honestly think it provides comfort to the soul, peace to the heart and when it’s also healthy, serenity for the mind.

This beef barley soup hits on all three counts, and since you can pop the ingredients into your slow cooker to simmer all day it also provides a stress free dinner!

Beef Barley Soup


Dangerous drug interactions …

I’ve spoken before about the dangers of drug interactions, there are medications that do not work well together – an these can send you to the hospital (or worse).

I am not a doctor nor a pharmacist, so I will not try to tell you which meds interact badly with others.  I will tell you this one important thing:

Whenever speaking to your doctor and pharmacist about a new medication

ALWAYS tell them about everything you’re taking.  

Prescriptions by other doctors – TELL THEM

Over the counter supplements or pain meds – TELL THEM

Herbal supplements or teas – TELL THEM

Other medical conditions – TELL THEM

While in your doctor’s office speaking of a new medicine talk to him/her about all I’ve stated above AND when picking up a new prescription from the pharmacy speak with the pharmacist telling them about all I stated above.

It may seem redundant to have the same conversation with both your doctor and pharmacist but it isn’t.  Your doctor has an 8-year degree in the practice of medicine, which includes knowledge of drugs and drug reactions.  Your pharmacist also has an 8-year degree – but his specified in the study of chemistry, drugs and drug reactions.

Follow this link to a news story on the increase of hospitalizations due to drug interactions.

ER visits due to drug interactions on the rise

PS: The featured image is of my favorite pharmacist … my grandpa, who graduated as a pharmacist in 1941!

Big Pharma Vs Patient needs

We’ve seen this over and over again, patients being prescribed medications because the doctors are being encouraged by the pharmaceutical companies to prescribe.  Right now it’s some of our most vulnerable who are being prescribed medications that may or may not be safe for them.  PBA (pseudobulbar affect) is a real condition, but is rare and usually affects those with MS or ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) but a surprisingly large number of dementia patients in nursing care facilities are being prescribed this medication often without the knowledge of their medical power of attorney.

It is being used as a behavior modification medication.  There hasn’t been sufficient studies to determine if this medication is; a) safe for use in dementia patients, b) actually works across the board as an effective treatment for behavioral outbursts or c) drug interactions with other medications typically prescribed for dementia.

This article goes into quite a bit of detail about the disturbing practices of the drug’s manufacturer, prescribing physicians receiving kickbacks for prescribing it and the fact that a medication designed to treat a rare condition specifically related to completely different diseases there are a large number of patients (especially in nursing facilities) being dosed with it.  Read here.

Project Life Saver

Wandering is such a worry for those of us who care for a loved one with dementia.  It seems that I cannot go a single day without hearing of someone wandering from their home or care facility.  We had such worries with my dad and found Project Life Saver through our local sheriff’s office.  A simple device attached to his wrist like a watch gave us peace of mind, knowing that if he did slip out of our notice we would be able to find him.

Go to their website to see if Project Life Saver is in your area or learn how to get them in your area. Project Life Saver

I can’t, I just can’t …

Today in my news feed a story comes up about a resident-on-resident assault in a memory care unit in Florida.  It was bad.  Two memory care patients, no staff nearby and a vicious attack – one man punched over 50 times.  

The national news jumped on this, the terrible home that allowed this to happen has the highest rate of fines and disciplinary actions for the entire state.  Incompetence at the highest levels of management and ownership!  Where were the caregivers?  How dare they hire staff members who cannot communicate properly with the residents?  Why wasn’t this facility closed down by the state (following this incident there were apparently 2 fatalities of residents caused by neglect).

So for this 15 minutes of fame … attention to the plight (yes, plight) of our seniors in nursing facilities, the nation is outraged.  People are asking how can we treat people like this?  People are asking why didn’t the government step up?  People are asking questions and I have a simple answer:

“Ask any doctor, nurse, cna – we’ve been saying it for years.  We are understaffed!  We are overworked!  We are under appreciated!”

I dare anyone to spend time in a care facility and not notice how few caregivers there are and how many residents they each have to care for.  Take a look at the number of times a resident uses their call light for attention.  Watch caregivers rush around making sure all call lights are answered.  Ask a caregiver when was the last time they skipped their lunch break because of resident needs. (Guarantee you that on average it will be harder for them to remember the last time they actually got their lunch break.) 

I am hoping that we can generate enough outrage with this story and the thousands more out there.  When people ask how could this happen I tell them, there is little to no regulation as to caregiver to resident ratios.  Caregivers are low-payed and overworked.  

Caregivers go into this field because they care about people and want to make a difference.  What they get is overworked, harassed by management, abused by residents and families of residents, and no time to follow their calling: treat their charges as valuable human beings.  Little wonder the good ones burn out.

So, why doesn’t the government pass better laws regarding safety, staffing ratios and other issues regarding care facilities?  Well I wish I could point at the specific reason and say ‘That’s it’ but I cannot.  I suspect there is the fact that these places are huge money earners for the owners, who may use their money to influence what laws are passed to regulate care facilities.  I suspect that we as a culture in general have such a youth fixation that we seem to forget that someday we may be old, weak and feeble.  Maybe it’s because we think that these are isolated incidents and isn’t reflected in most facilities.  Perhaps because unless it’s OUR mom, dad, grandma or grandpa it just doesn’t seem like a big deal.

Whatever the reason, it is time to stand up and say “no more”.  It’s time to start requiring lower resident to staff ratios.  This is about resident safety.  This is about caregiver safety.  This is about being able to treat residents as whole human beings (with needs beyond feeding and basic hygiene). This is about creating a situation where a facility can get great caregivers and keep them!

I would link to the story (like I often do) but CNN released the story with a video taken by the facility (CCTV in the common room) and while someone has blurred the faces of the victim and attacker the faces of the other residents aren’t blurred and there’s this thing called HIPPA.