senior man overcome with medication

“I don’t need that medicine! There’s nothing wrong with me!”

If you’ve heard an older family member declare this or other similar sentiments to make a case for refusing to take prescribed medication, you appreciate how concerning or frustrating it is. There are a lot of reasons someone may balk at following doctors’ orders, from denial to Alzheimer’s and everything in between. The bottom line, though, is that the physician recommends that the medications be taken; so, it’s vital that you make sure their orders are followed.

So what are some strategies to address medication refusal in senior loved ones? Our Des Moines dementia care providers propose the following:

Communicate with the Senior

When possible, try to establish precisely why the person is balking at taking meds. They could be suffering from unpleasant side effects, like an upset stomach, dizziness, changes in how food tastes, weakness, etc. If the older adult is unable to articulate the primary cause, keep a journal to make note of any alterations in disposition or behavior after medications are taken. Also look for nonverbal signs that may reveal the senior is experiencing physical discomfort, such as sleeping more or less, grimacing, or holding a hand over the stomach area.

Communicate with the Physician

Schedule a session with the senior’s health care provider to inform them about the issue. Find out if there is room for adjustment in any of the prescribed medications, especially in the event of unwanted side effects. It may be that certain medications can be placed on hold for the moment, while some are critical and life-saving. You can also ask the doctor to consult with the person to reiterate the necessity of taking medicines as prescribed. Oftentimes hearing instructions directly from a respected professional will carry more weight than from a loved one of a senior who is reluctant to take medications.

Consider Different Formats

If pills are difficult to swallow, see if they can be crushed or broken in two. If a liquid medication has a bad taste, see if different flavors are available, or if it could be mixed with food to help mask the taste. There are often multiple methods to customize how a medication is taken. The doctor or pharmacist can provide tips.

Stay Positive!

Caring for an older relative who refuses to adhere to recommended medical advice can be quite stressful. However, expressing your irritations can worsen an already challenging situation and cause the senior to dig their heels in even more. It’s important to prioritize the time you need for taking care of yourself to make sure your stress levels remain in check so you will have the patience needed to maintain a calm attitude.

Let At-Home Care Company, a trusted Des Moines dementia care provider, assist with medication reminder services from one of our experienced, skilled, and trained senior care experts. We can help ensure doctors’ orders are followed, enabling you to step away from that particular role and simply enjoy spending time with your loved one. Our medication reminder services are only one small part of the many aging care services we provide, too. Give us a call at  515-292-2650 to find out more ways we can assist in improving life for both you and a senior you love! For a full list of communities where we provide home care services, please visit our Service Area page.