Many families struggle to convince seniors to take medication that’s absolutely necessary for their health.
|Some older adults refuse on principle – I’ve never taken medicine in my life! I’m certainly not starting now.|
Others refuse because they’re suspicious, often due to Alzheimer’s or dementia – What’s that? Poison?! You’re trying to poison me!
And still others use it as a way to gain some control over their lives as their independence slowly slips away.
To help with this important daily task, we share 6 tips to encourage someone to take medication.
1. Focus on critical medications
In caregiving, it’s important to pick your battles. Don’t waste energy trying to get your older adult to take vitamins or other supplements that weren’t specifically recommended by their doctor.
Vitamins and supplements haven’t been proven to be helpful to older adults and could cause negative drug interactions.
Instead, focus on the medication that doctors have prescribed and are essential for their health and quality of life.
2. Have the doctor explain the importance
In some cases, your older adult doesn’t understand or won’t believe that there are serious consequences to not taking medication.
If that happens, ask their doctor to take time to explain to them why the medicine is important and what will happen if they don’t take it.
Many older adults respond better to authority figures and experts than they do to family members.
3. Check for unpleasant side effects
Sometimes your older adult may be refusing to take medicine because side effects are making them feel ill – dizzy, nauseated, upset stomach, etc.
Keep track of how they’re feeling and speak with their doctor to see if there are alternative medications without negative side effects.
4. Change the flavor or formula
Some medications tastes awful or gets stuck in the throat.
I wouldn’t blame someone for not wanting to take medicine that’s literally hard to swallow.
If this could be a problem, check with the doctor and pharmacy to find out if you can change the flavor or format (liquid, whole pill, crushed pill) without affecting how the medication works.
Big chain drugstores and compounding pharmacies usually offer these types of services.
5. Address emotions instead of words
There’s often an underlying fear or emotion behind a refusal to take medication.
When someone says no, keep your temper in check and gently ask questions to help uncover what’s behind their refusal.
You might say “I understand taking pills isn’t something you enjoy. Can you tell me more about how you’re feeling?”
Understanding more about why they’re refusing will help you find a solution.
6. Keep a positive attitude
Convincing someone to take their medication is a big challenge that might cause you to tense up or feel negatively.
So if taking medication is associated with negative emotions, it could make your older adult even more resistant.
To help with that, take a deep breath, stay positive, be as kind and patient as you can, and keep trying different strategies until you find some that work.