When Seniors Refuse Medication
There are many reasons why our elderly neglect to take their drugs properly. The most common cause is that they forget, which seems innocent enough.
Medication can be a double-edged sword for both seniors and their caregivers. While there is some relief from medicine, there are also side effects and reasons seniors put up a fight.
The average senior takes about seven different medications every day, including prescribed and over-the-counter, so it can be challenging to remember and keep track of them. However, refusal to take medication can present a huge problem as their health can decline This may affect their behaviour and overall well-being.
When Seniors Refuse Medication
Use the following tips to help counter your senior loved one’s reasons for not taking their medication.
Taste of Medication
If the taste is the main complaint, check the prescription bottle — or ask the doctor whether the medicine can be taken with food. This should help if the taste can be masked by tasty food.
If the plan is to take the medication with food, here are a few things to be mindful of:
- Does the food have to be taken on an empty stomach?
- Can the medication be crushed for easy swallowing or food blending?
- Can the medicine be taken with dairy or certain types of juice?
If the medication can be taken with food, you can place pills inside small pieces of food or mix the liquid medication with a favorite beverage to help with the taste. If the medicine can’t be crushed, you can still put it with a food that can be swallowed without chewing, such as applesauce. If the medicine cannot be taken with food, have your loved one place the medicine on the back of their tongue and swallow it with a large glass of water.
Some of the stronger medications needed to resolve health issues may have some unpleasant side effects. Many of these side effects are inevitable, such as an upset stomach or drowsiness. It’s important to be aware of these side effects and ask your elderly loved one how they feel. If the medications are consistently having a negative impact on their quality of life, discuss this with their health provider or pharmacist to see if there are alternative medications to help alleviate the symptoms.
Forgetting to take medications
If your loved one is living on their own and is forgetting to take their medication frequently, this can be a problem, especially if the medicine needs to be taken a few times a day. When forgetting becomes a consistent issue, here are a few suggestions:
- Pill organizers
- Medication management devices/pill dispensers
- Event reminder services, such as a cell phone alarm
- Medication checklists
- Consolidating medications into fewer pills (consult a physician)
It’s important to remember that nothing substitutes for responsible caregiver advocacy and being proactive about the drugs our loved ones are taking. Visit the doctor with your loved one and bring their medications. If Alzheimer’s or dementia is the main reason for forgetfulness, it’s probably time to consider an in-home caregiver. If you have a caregiver, you can review the medications with them.
Promyse Home Care performs regular medication reviews, removes expired or out-of-date medications for safe disposal, and provides methods to ensure all medications are taken at the right dose and at the right time, every time. If needed, a registered nurse will be available to administer medications.