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When the Elderly Stop Taking Medication: What To Do

Dealing with a senior loved one who stopped taking their medication can be a difficult situation. However, it is essential to understand that seniors may have valid reasons for refusing medical care. In this post, we’ll review what to do when an elderly parent or loved one refuses medical care.

Why Do Seniors Stop Taking Medications?

Patients not taking their medications as prescribed by their healthcare providers is known as medication nonadherence. Patients may fail to adhere to medication due to various reasons such as concerns about side effects, high costs, misunderstanding of their treatment, multiple complex dosages, absence of symptoms, mistrust in the pharmaceutical sector, dependency fears, and depression. Effective communication between doctors and patients is crucial to overcome these challenges.

What Do You Do When An Elderly Parent Refuses to Take Medication?

As we get older, our bodies become more vulnerable to a missed dose of medication. Neglecting to take medicines as instructed can result in various negative side effects. If you are dealing with a loved one who refuses to take their medication, it can be a stressful experience. However, there are some tips that can help you manage such situations.

  1. Talk to them. Try to figure out what is causing their refusal. Perhaps they’re experiencing annoying side effects. If they can’t verbalize what is happening, keep a journal noting changes in disposition or attitudes. For example, if the medicine is making them tired in the middle of the day, consult with their physician about taking the medication before bedtime instead.
  2. Speak with the doctor. Tell them about the situation to see if they can help. Perhaps if your loved one hears directly from a medical professional about how important it is to take medications, it could sway them more easily.
  3. Try the medication in another form. In addition to crushing the pills, they can also take them in liquid form. Speak to their physician about the most appropriate methods.
  4. Stay positive. It can be very annoying when your loved one refuses medication, but it’s vital to make sure you never express that irritation directly to them. Keep your stress levels in check and practice good self-care. After all, if you get frustrated, chances are they’ll get more frustrated.

What Do You Do When A Dementia Patient Refuses Medication?

When a patient with dementia refuses to take their medication, it can have negative consequences in terms of their overall health and well-being. However, it's crucial to remember that this behavior could simply be their way of communicating their needs and feelings. Here are some strategies that may help when dealing with a dementia patient who refuses medication:

  • Provide a calm environment. This can include a space with soft music, no TV, and little commotion. Sometimes, a certain space where they take medication can be overstimulating. A more relaxed environment can be more encouraging.
  • Break it down. Sometimes, older adults can feel rushed or confused about what they’re supposed to do. Try simplifying matters by calmly breaking things down into smaller steps. This can include assisting them in pouring water into a glass or even gently guiding the glass to their mouth.
  • Consult with professionals. For example, if you feel like your loved one may be more agreeable in the morning, consult a physician or pharmacist about switching from evening meds to morning meds.
  • Consider what other aspects may be triggering. Are the pills too large? Consult your physician about crushing them and mixing them with food or a beverage.
  • Take a break. Set time aside and wait a few minutes. They may calm down, and you can then resume your normal routine. Remember that behaviors will change over time.

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Navigating Medication Challenges with Seniors

Addressing an elderly parent who refuses to take medication, especially those with dementia, demands patience, understanding, and collaboration. Whether it's due to side effects, fear, confusion, or other personal reasons, the refusal to take medication stems from genuine concerns or challenges they face. It's essential to approach the situation with empathy and seek professional advice where necessary. Remember, consistent communication, flexibility in administering medication, and creating a supportive environment can make a significant difference in ensuring our senior loved ones receive the care they deserve. Taking these steps not only safeguards their health but also strengthens the bond of trust and understanding between caregivers and their elderly loved ones.