When I called the Dr.-he again prescribed an even higher dose of the same medication. I gave it, hoping that this time, it would be enough.
My shift was almost over, and as I was giving report to the oncoming nurse, Virginia was again trying to climb out of bed. Together, we both put her in a chair and brought her to the nurses’ station, attempting to calm her down as well as put her in a safe area where they could keep an eye on her throughout the night.
She was getting increasingly more agitated, and kept saying “Why is this happening? Why can’t I go home?”
I left feeling devastated that she had to be in such an emotional state.
The next day I heard what had happened after I left for the night.
Virginia did not get better. She continued to get more and more agitated throughout the night. Even ANOTHER dose of the medication was given to her without any results whatsoever.
Finally, sometime before morning, one of the nurses was going through Virginia’ chart and realized that a medication she had been on at home had not been prescribed to her. A medication that a person could experience withdrawal from.
Surprised at finding this, the nurse notified the physician, who ordered the medication.
And by around noon the next day, Virginia was completely back to her normal mental state.
And she told me later that the night before had been “The worst night of her life, and she had lived a nightmare.”
I tell this story because I think of how I assumed. I assumed that Virginia, because she was elderly, was demented. How that once the night was over with some medication, she would be fine. That she was ‘sun downing’ and probably just had some ‘memory issues.’
I assumed that how I have treated dementia patients in the past was how I could treat Virginia.
When in fact, she did not have dementia at all, but was suffering from medication withdrawal!
Just because someone is elderly does not mean that they must or will be confused.
Just because one medication works in one situation, does not always mean it will work in another.
When giving care, never assume.
You could change a person’s life for the better.
Or for the worse.
You never know.