What to do when dementia patients refuse to take their medication

It is often quite common for members of our family and all our loved ones who have dementia to refuse to take their medication. When this happens we need to look at this situation in a couple of different ways and as best we can. Firstly, we should perhaps ask if we are infringing on their rights? As everyone should still have the same rights, whether they suffer with dementia or not. However, one of the symptoms of dementia is impaired decision-making. As the dementia sufferer may have advanced so far into the disease that their thinking and decision making is now completely irrational. So refusing certain medications is a possibility but also harmful or even fatal. For example, Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) are common in the latter stages of dementia related diseases. Therefore, administering prescribed antibiotics to try and cure the medical condition is essential or the infection will only cause increased confusion. However, I have had the pleasure to have met and spoken with some very loving, caring and experienced carers over the years who have shared their numerous creative ways of successfully administering these important drugs. Some medications do not always have to be in pill form. Therefore, always ask the pharmacist if there is a liquid or gel form. This might be easier for you to ask and persuade them to take their medication. Keeping a strict routine can help immensely when it comes to caring for a loved one who has Alzheimer’s disease. Ensure they take their pills at the same time every day. For example, use the same blue bowl or pill box/wallet for their pills every morning and evening. As there has been accusations of someone is trying to poison them. Remember that the setting should always be calm, ensuring that you remain that way as well. As if you get frustrated or angry with them, and they become aggressive and anxious you will find it extremely hard to get them to take their medication. So patience is vital. Another tactic to maybe use is, and this is only if you are also taking medication, is to take yours at the same time. In other words, we are both in the same boat, so no big deal. Different times of the day will also work better than others. As if your loved one likes an afternoon nap, maybe late afternoon or early evening is not the best time to try this. Talk to their GP and find out if their medication timetable/schedule can be altered slightly. There will always be some trial and error when caring for someone who has dementia. Therefore, it is essential we just need to learn what works best for each person.

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