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6 Ways to Convince Seniors to Take Medication

6 ways to convince seniors to take medicine

Why do seniors refuse to take medicine?

Many families struggle to convince seniors to take medication that’s absolutely necessary for their health conditions. 

Some older adults refuse on principle – I’ve never taken medicine in my life! I’m certainly not starting now.

Others refuse because they’re suspicious, often due to Alzheimer’s disease or dementia – What’s that? Poison?! You’re trying to poison me!

And still others use it as a way to gain some control over their lives as their independence slowly slips away.

To help with this important daily task, we share 6 ways to encourage someone to take medication.


6 ways to convince seniors to take medication

1. Focus on critical medications In caregiving, it’s important to pick your battles.

Don’t waste energy trying to get your older adult to take vitamins or other supplements that weren’t specifically recommended by their doctor.

Vitamins and supplements haven’t been proven to be helpful to older adults and could even cause negative drug interactions or reduce the effectiveness of important medications.

Instead, focus on the medication that doctors have prescribed and are essential for their health and quality of life.

2. Have the doctor explain the importance In some cases, your older adult doesn’t understand or won’t believe that there are serious consequences to not taking medication. 

If that happens, ask their doctor to take time to explain to them why the medicine is important and what will happen if they don’t take it. 

Many older adults respond better to authority figures and experts than they do to family members.

3. Check for unpleasant side effects Sometimes your older adult may be refusing to take medicine because side effects are making them feel ill – dizzy, nauseated, upset stomach, etc.

Take notes to keep track of how they’re feeling and speak with their doctor to see if there are alternative medications without negative side effects.

4. Change the flavor or formula Some medications tastes awful or gets stuck in the throat. 

You wouldn’t blame someone for not wanting to take medicine that’s literally hard to swallow. 

If this could be a problem, check with the doctor and pharmacy to find out if there’s a way to change the flavor or format to make it easier to take without affecting how the medication works (liquid, crushed pill, whole pill, etc.).

Big chain drugstores and compounding pharmacies usually offer these types of services.

Advertisement 5. Address emotions instead of words There’s often an underlying fear or emotion behind a refusal to take medication. 

When someone says no, keep your temper in check and gently ask questions to help uncover what’s behind their refusal.

You might say “I understand taking pills isn’t something you enjoy. Can you tell me more about how you’re feeling?” 

Understanding more about why they’re refusing will help you find a solution.

6. Keep a positive attitude Convincing someone to take their medication is a big challenge that might cause you to subconsciously tense up or feel negatively.

The issue with this is that all people, but especially those with dementia, pick up on body language and tone of voice.

So if taking medication is associated with negative emotions, it could make your older adult even more resistant.

To help remedy this, before you offer their medication, take a few minutes to breathe deeply, get into a calm state of mind, and focus on being as kind and patient as possible.

Most importantly, do your best to keep calm while you try different strategies until you find some that work.

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By DailyCaring Editorial Team Image: Lav Care Services


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