What to do When Your Senior Loved One Won’t Take Their Medication

November 9, 2021 | BY PHS Staff

It can be frustrating when your senior loved one refuses to take a prescribed medication. It can be especially frustrating when your loved one has Alzheimer’s disease and forgets to take their prescriptions or deliberately refuses to take them when they’re supposed to. Hiring Alzheimer’s care in Hanover can help a lot with medication management, but there are some things you can do as the family caregiver.

Medication nonadherence is common among seniors. In fact, the Department of Health and Human Services says 55 percent of seniors are non-compliant when it comes to their prescription drug orders, meaning they fail to take their medication according to their doctor’s instructions. Moreover, 200,000 older adults are hospitalized every year due to adverse drug reactions, says AgingCare.

There are many reasons why your senior isn’t taking their medication as they should.

  • Vision problems: They may have difficulty reading the small print on the label.
  • Memory loss: Dementia patients may forget to take their medication, which means they may often skip doses. Or, they may assume that they already took their medication and then unknowingly take too much, which can lead to an overdose.
  • Limited income: Seniors on fixed incomes often can’t afford all the medications they are prescribed. They may split pills or take less than the recommended dose to save money.
  • Swallowing problems: Seniors who have trouble swallowing (known as dysphagia) may attempt to chew, crush, mix or break their tablets into their food or drink. Because many medications are long-acting formulas, they could be released too quickly when altered.
  • Hearing loss: Those who are hard of hearing may have trouble hearing and understanding doctor or pharmacist instructions about how they should take each medication.
  • Social isolation: Seniors who live alone often don’t comply with medication schedules because they have no one there to remind them or push them to take their meds.
  • Control: Sometimes, seniors who feel a loss of independence may exhibit their need for control by not taking their medicine.

Tips For Medication Adherence

Alzheimer’s home care can assure family caregivers that their loved ones are indeed taking the medications they should, and at the right times throughout the day. But there are things you can do as the family caregiver to ensure they are sticking to their routine.

  • Focus on critical medications: As you know, caregiving is about picking your battles. Don’t waste your time and energy urging your senior loved one to take vitamins or supplements not specifically recommended by their doctor. Rather, focus on the critical medications that doctors have given them a prescription for and that are essential to their health and life, points out DailyCaring.
  • Ask their doctor to explain the importance of taking their meds: Sometimes, seniors don’t really believe that there are serious consequences to failing to take their prescriptions. Ask their doctor to explain to them the risks of non-compliance. Seniors tend to listen more to authority figures than their adult children or spouses.
  • Switch up the flavor or formula: If a particular medication is not agreeable in terms of taste, size or texture, ask the doctor and pharmacy if they can change the flavor, size or texture of a pill to make it easier to swallow.
  • Use emotions instead of words: Many seniors have an underlying fear that’s behind their refusal to take medication. If your loved one says no and refuses to take their pills, ask questions to find out what’s really causing their refusal. You could say “I understand it’s no fun to take so many pills, but maybe you can explain your feelings about it to me.” When you know why they’re refusing, you can find solutions that work.

Contact Preferred HealthStaff

With our Alzheimer’s in home care, you can rest assured our caregivers will make sure your senior takes their medications correctly and on time. To learn more, contact us toll free at 866-943-9791 or in Fairfield 717-642-8500.