6 Tips to Convince Seniors to Take Medication

convince seniors to take medication

Stubborn seniors refuse to take medicine

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

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 dementia symptoms – 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 independence keeps slipping away.


6 tips for convincing seniors to take medicine

1. Keep a positive attitude
All people, but especially those with dementia, pick up on body language and tone of voice. If medication is associated with negative emotions, it may make your older adult even more resistant. Keep a positive attitude and light tone of voice when it’s time to take medicine.

2. Address emotions instead of words
There’s often an underlying fear or emotion behind a refusal to take medication. When they say no, keep your temper in check and gently ask questions to help you uncover what’s behind it.

You could 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.

3. Focus on critical medications
Don’t waste energy trying to get your senior to take vitamins or other supplements. They haven’t been proven to be helpful to older adults (and may cause drug interactions). Focus on medication doctors have prescribed and are absolutely essential for their health and quality of life.

4. Have the doctor explain
If your older adult doesn’t understand (or won’t believe you) that there are serious consequences to not taking medication, 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 seniors respond better to authority figures than to family.

5. Check for unpleasant side effects
Sometimes your older adult may refuse to take medicine because its side effects are making them feel ill – dizzy, nauseated, upset stomach, etc. Keep track of how they’re feeling and speak with their doctor to see if there are alternatives with fewer side effects.

6. Change the flavor or formula
Sometimes medicine tastes awful or gets stuck in their throat. I wouldn’t blame seniors for not wanting to take something that’s literally hard to swallow.

If this could be a problem, check with the doctor and pharmacy to see if you can change the format (liquid, whole pill, crushed pill) or flavor. Big chain drugstores and compounding pharmacies usually offer these services and doctors can tell you if crushing a pill will change the effect.


Bottom line

Convincing someone to take their medication is a big challenge. Take a deep breath, stay positive, be kind and patient, and keep trying different strategies until you find one that works.


You might also like:
Stanford Doctor Warns of the Negative Effects of Prescription Drugs
Medications Worsen Dementia and Increase Dementia Risk: Anticholinergics
Medications Seniors Should Avoid: The Beers List


By DailyCaring Editorial Staff
Image: BrightFocus Foundation

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