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How Do I Get My Elderly Loved One to Take Their Medication?

Helping seniors take their medication

How Do I Get My Elderly Loved One to Take Their Medication?

Handling Resistance to Medication

Medication, despite their ability to create relief for senior patients, may cause a caregiver some trouble if they refuse to take it. Especially if the older adult suffer from Alzheimer’s or dementia, the struggle’s repetitiveness can get quite frustrating.

There are many reasons people neglect to take their prescribed medicines. The key to handling resistance to medication is to truly understand the dimensions of the problem. Find out why your loved one is refusing to cooperate, then take the necessary steps to smooth out the process.


Why do seniors refuse medicine?

Here are some common reasons elderly patients avoid taking their prescription drugs.

  • Confusion: Perhaps due to their health condition(s), your aging parent or grandparent cannot process the concept of taking medication. Dementia or Alzheimer’s patients in particular may not understand what is going on at all.
  • Forgetfulness: If he or she independently manages their medication or lives alone, your loved one may simply forget to do it. It is understandable to lose track of drug intake on occasion, but frequent occurrences can pose a huge problem.
  • Side Effects: There are side effects with every drug. Do the medications cause your elderly loved one a discomfort you’re not aware of? Communicating certain side effects may be kept from you due to embarrassment or fear.
  • Taste or difficulty swallowing: Many pills and other oral medicines have a bitter taste. Sometimes, they may be difficult to swallow due to a previous stroke or dental issues. It is not uncommon for seniors to be finicky about what goes in their mouths.


Tips for Getting Someone to Take Their Medication

Try these suggestions for helping seniors take medicine. You will find that all of these make it easier to manage prescription drug consumption.

  • Speak to Their Doctor: Their M.D. may have a solution for you based on the patient’s particular needs. Perhaps there is a way to minimize the number of pills they must take, change certain dosages, switch to a different formula, etc.
  • Create a calm environment: A less stressful environment may help an older adult relax enough to do something uncomfortable but necessary.
  • Crush pills into food: Crushing medication into applesauce, yogurt, or other foods may make it more pleasant to consume. Make sure to ask a pharmacist before doing this, since certain pills become less effective when crushed.
  • Do it together: Taking your own vitamins or medicine at the same time can make the entire experience more enjoyable, as if you two are “buddies”.
  • Set up medication management devices: If your loved one is independent, help them set up alarms, pill organizers or dispensers, daily checklists, etc.
  • Remain calm: Don’t force it. If it’s not happening, try again in 10 minutes. Sometimes, they just need to breathe, calm down, and/or be in a different mind state.
  • Stick to a Routine: This can do wonders for getting a senior to cooperate, especially one struggling with dementia. Eventually, a regular schedule may make it so there is no resistance to medication at all.
  • Offer a Reward: Consider offering a treat as a reward for taking their medicines, such as chocolate. This may help them associate medicine with something positive, instead of something uncomfortable.

Have you struggled with an elderly loved one who refuses to take their medication? We’d love to hear what you did to cope. Let us know in the comments section below!

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The Giving Care Team is a group of senior and adaptive clothing professionals dedicated to helping the elderly maintain a comfortable and dignified lifestyle with tips and secrets on how to get the most out of life when disability and age fight to stop us at every opportunity. The Giving Care Blog is a resource for seniors, their families and caregivers.

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