Many families experience difficulty persuading seniors to take medicines that will help them maintain their physical or mental health.
Some elderly individuals say “no” to medications as a way to regain control over their lives as their independence gradually slips away. Other older adults refuse on principle, stating that they’ve never taken medications in their entire life — and they’re certainly not planning to start now.
The refusal to take medication, however, can be a huge problem for seniors, as their overall health can decline. If you’re having trouble countering your parent’s excuses for refusing medication, take note of these tips to turn around this frustrating behavior:
Have a Doctor Emphasize the Importance of Medication
Your elderly parent may refuse to take medication on the fact that you’re not a doctor or a professional in the medical field. They may argue that they shouldn’t bother drinking whatever medicine you give them if you don’t know how that drug works or why it’s vital for the body.
If this is the case, approach a doctor or your parent’s primary care physician for assistance. Let these health care professionals explain to your parents the importance of the medication along with the consequences of refusing the medicine.
This may just be the solution you’re looking for, as older adults may respond better to experts or authority figures than they do to friends or family members.
Consider Changing the Formula or Flavor
Some medicines taste terrible, while others tend to get stuck in the throat. The experience isn’t good either way. If this is an issue, check with a physician or a pharmacist to find out if you could get a flavorless variety of the medicine without affecting how the drug works.
Also, see if you could get a different drug form (from a whole pill to liquid, for instance). This way, swallowing the medicine will be a more pleasant experience for your elderly parent.
Create a Quiet and Calm Environment
Take your elderly family member to a room that’s calm and quiet. Make sure that there aren’t any loud or distracting sounds, such as TV noise and conversations of people outside. You could play soothing and soft music if you need to mask the noise.
Before you bring up the need to take medications, take a few deep breaths and try your hardest to stay calm throughout the process. The last thing you want to happen is to raise tensions. Seniors are less likely to cooperate if they sense that you are angry, frustrated or agitated.
Try to Find Out How They Feel
Individuals can unintentionally hurl a lot of hurtful statements in a heated argument. If you got into an argument with an elderly parent over the refusal to take the required medicines, look past what they said.
Then, figure out the emotions that are driving these angry words? Bring up these emotions in a conversation and you’ll eventually arrive at the root cause for the refusal.
Ask Them About the Medication’s Side Effects
A strong reason for refusing to take medication may be the unpleasant side effects. If they won’t tell you how they’re feeling, check the medicine packaging to find out the possible side effects that the drug can produce. They can sometimes be unpleasant or severe to the point that your elderly family member will say “no” at the mere sight of the drug.
Once you are familiar with the medication’s side effects, keep track of your senior after they’ve ingested the drug to see if you can identify the issues with them. If you do, consult with your primary care physician to determine if there alternative medicines with minimal to zero side effects.
Be Their Medication Buddy
If you are taking maintenance medication just like your elderly parents, you could talk to them and encourage them to take the meds at the same time. You could say something like, “It’s time for our medication. Here’s yours and here’s mine. On the count of three, we’ll swallow the pills together.”
If you are not taking medicines, see if you could get away by taking vitamin supplements.
Offer a Sweet Treat
You could think about giving your elderly family member a treat as a reward for successfully taking their medication. An example is giving them a small piece of chocolate or a sweet piece of fruit like a banana. You could say that this is their treat after they finish the pills.
Crush Pills into Food
Crushing the tablet or pill and putting it into yogurt, applesauce and other foods may make the medication more pleasant to consume. Before you do this, though, check with a pharmacist, as certain medicines become less effective when you crush them.
Don’t give up when you have an elderly parent or family member refusing to take their medication. Follow these tips to convince them to take their meds and help them maintain their health.