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How To Get Someone With Dementia To Take Their Meds

How To Get Someone With Dementia To Take Their Meds

Have you noticed that people with dementia often feel they’ve lost control over their lives? They may often be confused, and rather than expressing that, they present as angry or stubborn. If you know and love someone struggling with dementia, you may be grappling with these natural side-effects of memory loss. What was familiar and safe does not feel that way anymore.

Sometimes this means they may not understand what is happening to their bodies and, as a result, may resist taking their medications. But of course, taking medications as prescribed is important for health and well-being. In such a case, how can you get your loved one to comply with doctor’s orders for medication without stress or unhappiness?

For information and guidance about elder care, call Oasis Senior Advisors. If it’s time to consider memory care or an in-home aide, we are happy to discuss available options. Or simply call for resources and support as you begin your research.

Tips to Help Your Parent Take Medication

You want to keep your relationship solid and avoid unpleasantness for you and your loved one. No one wants daily upset or discomfort around something as important as taking regular medication. Try some of the ideas below to see if they ease the difficulty around medication time.

  • Check unpleasant side effects. Your parent may associate certain negative reactions or discomfort with certain medications. Before urging medication compliance, try to discern if an underlying sensitivity or side-effect exists and would make a different prescription advisable.
  • Create a sense of calm. It is important to avoid any sense of urgency or anxiety as you approach medication time. The more difficulty you have had with your loved one taking their medication, the harder it is to remain calm. But where logic and explanation may fall on deaf ears, the underlying mood in the room is always telegraphed directly to the dementia patient, and they will react. Deep breaths, touch, a quiet tone—may help.
  • Partner with them. If you have medications to take, do it at the same time. If you are both putting medications in your mouth and swallowing, it may seem less like telling them what to do and more like a shared activity.
  • Make medications easy to swallow. If objections to medication have to do with discomfort swallowing bad tasting or extra-large pills, perhaps a liquid form of the medicine is available. If not, is there a way to sprinkle crushed pills into soft food like applesauce, yogurt, or ICE CREAM? Check with the doctor first. Not all pills should be crushed or taken with food.
  • Rewards can help. If you both can look forward to a square of milk chocolate, a pot of tea, or a muffin at medication time, your parent may overlook the confusion or annoyance of medication in favor of an anticipated pleasure. Make it about the pleasure. ‘It’s time for chocolate!’
  • Avoid logic. Trying to reason with someone with dementia rarely goes well. Keep things simple. Hand your loved one the pill, mime the action of placing it in the mouth, and when they do, hand them the water and say, “Big drink.” This approach avoids making it a discussion or disagreement. It is simply an action they can comprehend.
  • Routine is key. There are good and bad times of day for those with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. Select the best times of day for medication. The best times are when they are alert, in a good mood, and not showing signs of sundowning. If a time of day is mandated for a particular medication, this plan may not work, but otherwise, a routine can be your friend.
  • Try again later. Don’t give up. Don’t get mad. Don’t despair. If you had no luck with your first try, put the task to one side, do something else, and return 15 or 20 minutes later when you are likely to find an entirely different outcome awaits.

Let Oasis Senior Advisors Help

For you, the changes that take place as your parents age are all new and can feel overwhelming. But for Oasis Senior Advisors, we’ve seen it before and can offer support and information that will help take away the overwhelm.
Give us a call about the various challenges you are facing as your parents age. We can help. Call us at 475.619.4123 or 914.356.1901 or complete our online form.

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Paul and Susan Doyle

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