When Seniors Refuse Medication

There are many reasons why our elderly neglect to take their drugs properly. The most common cause is that they forget, which seems innocent enough.

Medication can be a doubtful advantage for both seniors and their caregivers. There can be side effects and reasons seniors put up a fight.
On average senior takes about seven different medications every day, including prescribed and over-the-counter, so it can be challenging to keep track. However, refusing to take medication can present a huge problem as their health can decline. This may affect their behaviour and overall well-being. When seniors refuse medication, use the following tips to help counter your senior loved one’s reasons for not taking their medication.

Taste of Medication

Sometimes it is the taste of the medicine. Ask the doctor whether the medicine can be taken with food. This should help if the taste can be masked by tasty food.

If the plan is to take the medication with food, here are a few things to be mindful of

  • Is it recommended that medication is taken when the stomach is empty?
  • To make it easier to swallow, can you crush or blend the medication? 
  • Is it possible to digest with milk or juice?

You can mix the medication in small amounts of food or mix the liquid medication with a favourite beverage to help with the taste. If the medicine can’t be crushed, you can still put it in soft foods such as pudding or applesauce.

Side Effects

Some of the stronger medications needed to resolve health issues may have some unpleasant side effects. Many of these side effects are inevitable, such as an upset stomach or drowsiness. Be aware of how your loved one is feeling and all the side effects. If the medications are having a negative impact on their quality of life, discuss this with the pharmacist to see if there are alternative medications to help alleviate the symptoms.

Forgetting to take Medications

When a loved one is living on their own, they can sometimes forget to take their medication especially if the medicine needs to be taken a few times a day. When forgetting becomes a consistent issue, here are a few suggestions:

  • Pill organizers
  • Medication management devices/pill dispensers
  • Event reminder services, such as a cell phone alarm
  • Medication checklists
  • Consolidating medications into fewer pills (consult a physician)

It’s important to remember that nothing substitutes for responsible caregiver advocacy and being proactive about the drugs our loved ones are taking. Visit the doctor with your loved one and bring their medications. If Alzheimer’s or dementia is the main reason for forgetfulness, it’s probably time to consider an in-home caregiver. If you have a caregiver, you can review the medications with them.

Our Healthcare Team

Promyse Home Care performs regular medication reviews, removes expired or out-of-date medications for safe disposal, and provides methods to ensure all medications are taken at the right dose and at the right time, every time. If needed, a registered nurse will be available to administer medications.


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