“I don’t need that medicine! There’s nothing wrong with me!”
If you’ve heard an older relative proclaim this or any other sentiment to justify not taking the medication their doctor prescribed, you understand how frustrating and concerning it is. There are a lot of reasons that contribute to medication refusal in older adults, from denial to Alzheimer’s and everything in between. The truth, though, is that the physician advises that the medications be taken; therefore, it’s necessary to make sure their orders are followed.
Speak to the Senior
When possible, attempt to establish the reason why the senior is refusing to take meds. They may be experiencing uncomfortable effects, such as dizziness, upset stomach, alterations in how food tastes, exhaustion, etc. In the event that the older adult is unable to articulate the primary cause, keep a journal to note any changes in mood or behavior after medications are taken. Also look for nonverbal signs that may suggest the senior is suffering from physical discomfort, such as sleeping more or less, grimacing, or holding a hand over the stomach area.
Speak to the Physician
Schedule an appointment with the senior’s health care provider to let them know about the problem. Find out if there is room for adjustment in any of the prescribed medicines, particularly in the event of undesirable side effects. It may be that certain treatments can be put on hold for now, while others are critical and life-saving. You may also ask the doctor to talk with the person to reiterate the importance of taking medications as prescribed. In some cases, hearing recommendations directly from a trusted professional will carry more weight than from a relative of a senior who is reluctant to take medications.
Explore Alternate Formats
If pills are hard to swallow, check to see if they could be crushed or broken in half. If a liquid medication has a bad taste, see if different flavors are available, or if perhaps it could be mixed with food to help conceal the taste. There are often several ways to change how a medication is taken. The physician or pharmacist can offer suggestions.
Taking care of an older relative who does not want to adhere to recommended medical advice can be extremely stressful. However, expressing your frustrations can exacerbate an already challenging situation and cause the senior to dig their heels in even more. It’s important to prioritize the time needed for taking care of yourself to ensure your stress levels remain in check so you’ll have the patience you need to maintain a calm demeanor.
Struggling with medication refusal in older adults you love? Let Abby Senior Care, a trusted provider of senior home care in Denver and the surrounding communities, help with medication reminder services from one of our experienced, skilled, and trained caregivers. We can help ensure doctors’ orders are followed, allowing you to step away from that particular role and simply take pleasure in spending time with your loved one. Our medication reminder services are only one small part of the many aging care services we provide, too. Call us today at 303-699-8840 to find out more ways we can help improve life for both you and a senior you love!