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The Cocktail



Of course, you might presume from the title that I have created an original alcoholic drink to make caregiving to a loved one with cognitive decline so much easier! Not that kind of cocktail. Sorry.

We live on a roller coaster ride with steep ups and downs as Hubby’s mind fluctuates. After a ten-year journey, I did not imagine that there could be any surprises left. I was wrong.

Last night was the third night of Hubby’s new nighttime medications as prescribed by Dr. S. The new cocktail of meds added five pills to the regime. Hubby is rebelling. One can’t really blame him, it’s so many pills to take throughout the day. He is having a problem remembering to swallow, and chewing the pills cannot be a yummy treat. We watch him like mother hawks to be sure that no pills mysteriously appear on the floor in two days’ time. Dr. S has prescribed a combination of two medications for a good night’s sleep, in addition to another that he takes every four hours to suppress anxiety. He also suggested that the different pains he is experiencing from bruises after falling so many times may be interrupting his sleep. Two pain-killers were thus added to the night time mix. That makes five pills on top of his regular prescriptions. We need to reduce or redistribute his pills so he is not forced to take so many at one time. A call to Dr. S resulted in dropping two other medications which may no longer be essential. Something had to give.

Ah yes, I forgot one important addition; We are now giving him time-released prescription Melatonin. Dr. S explained that this does not always help, but the hallucinations have to do with the confusion of the Circadian rhythm that the brain experiences – the differences in the body’s responses to day and night. Many of us have tried using Melatonin when we fly across multiple time zones. Some people swear by its benefits in fighting jet lag. I will quite frankly, try anything Dr. S suggests, as we must stop the night time wanderings, manic behavior and hallucinating.

A word of warning to all… Time Release medications cannot be chewed (or ground up for that matter!)  Whilst it might never dawn on you or I to chew this yummy delicacy, there are times when Hubby cannot be deterred. On those nights nothing works properly, surprise! As dementia progresses, the patient’s ability to follow even simple instructions wanes. Even though the pills must taste bitter when he chews them, my asking him to have a drink and swallow the medication is ignored.

Last night, Hubby went into his bed but was wide awake. A serenade of Frank Sinatra tunes turned into a sing-along. He was enjoying it. With each song, I dropped the volume just a bit. The softer the music was, the softer he sang… and finally he slipped off into a deep sleep. It was far better than the shock of turning off the lights and/or the music, while the brain was super active.

A pleasant surprise. Hubby slept a full eight hours for the second night in a row. The heavens have opened up and the sun has shone upon us! He awoke with a lovely attitude and quite happy. When he was served his breakfast pita, he neglected to look for all the dark spots which have thwarted his eating over the past year. He gobbled up the fresh bread as if he had not eaten for an eternity. There was no collection of torn off “inedible” pieces adorning his plate. Violet and I were stunned! Then we remembered that he had not complained about the meal last night and had eaten well. He even made a suggestion! He said “The only thing missing from this meal is some bread!” He has not been able to make a suggestion like that in a very long time. Something is working well! Yea team! (Yes, there is actually a team of people working on Hubby’s behalf!)

If Hubby sleeps without interruption, it is a gift to all of us. I still instinctively check on him every two hours throughout the night-time hours but he is not opening doors and talking to people who are invisible to me… so life is good.

If you have been following the ups and downs of my account of caring for my loved one with dementia, you will understand what thrills me, may not be exactly what you would find exciting. Being able to improve a patient’s eating, their anger issues, their cognition and their daily quality of life may not qualify as a “miracle” in your world… it at least qualifies as a “mini-miracle” in ours!

On the other-hand, I just looked at Hubby’s chart of pills and he has checked off that he has taken them all, including tomorrow, the next day and the following one. Not much point in having a pre-checked chart!

Hubby loves his chart and said that someone else filled in the spaces, definitely not him. It must have been a friendly gremlin that was invisible to all but Hubby himself! We would not dream of correcting him!


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Barbara Diamond is a journalist living in Jerusalem, Israel. She has been a political activist on behalf of Israel and the Jewish people for over fifty years, having participated in political and humanitarian missions to Ethiopia, the former Soviet Union, China, and Europe to meet with world leaders on matters of concern. She has written over 100 articles for the Jerusalem Post and on her blog at The Times of Israel, hosted an English radio talk show in Jerusalem and continues mentoring others to pass on the torch of responsibility. You can reach her at and visit her site at