The role of a caregiver to a person with dementia is both crucial and challenging. The complex nature of the condition demands for a caregiver who is at once both patient and resourceful. One of the biggest areas of struggles caregivers face is to get older persons with dementia to take their medicine. Frustration can set in when you have their best interest at heart but they refuse to cooperate with you.
As in the case of young children, the chief reason why they refuse to take medicine may be due to the unpleasant taste and experience. It may also be down to their disorientation at what they are supposed to do and the fear of a lack of control over their situation. Regardless of the reason, we offer the following tips to help make medicine time more stress-free and effortless for both you and your loved one with dementia.
Take note of existing side effects, and lookout for new ones
It can be taken for granted that persons with dementia will only be prescribed medicine with their allergies taken into consideration. But as with all medicine, side effects are common and vary from person to person. A person with dementia may refuse to take medication as it makes them uncomfortable or sick. Their reduced ability to convey this may lead to the rejection of medicine as the only way to let you know. Consult a doctor if you observe this in your loved ones with dementia.
Less is best
The rule of thumb with medications is the lesser the better. While seniors may require multiple medications, they should be cut down to only those that are really necessary. Speak with a doctor and see if you can discontinue any prescription to make both you and your loved one with dementia’s lives easier.
Make medicine easy to take
Swallowing pills can always be a tricky affair due to their different shapes and sizes. If possible, switch hard pills to liquid formula alternatives to reduce choking hazards, or consult your doctor to see if which pills are suitable to be crushed and mixed into meals and delicious desserts to facilitate the process of taking medicine. By combining medicine with meals, you also save on precious time.
Get to the root of the problem
Every problem has a reason, and finding out what causes the mental block in persons with Alzheimer’s when it comes to pill time can save you a lot of time and energy. Does the mere sight of the bottles cause distress? Or perhaps it’s the loudness of the TV that makes them too agitated to cooperate? Make the medicine-taking experience less of a rigid, intimidating chore and more of an easy, quick part of the everyday by eliminating triggers of distress and creating a calm, soothing environment.
Timing is of the essence
Persons with dementia are especially susceptible to drastic changes in moods, so catching them at a bad moment naturally hinders their receptivity to cooperate. Adjust their medication schedule to fit into the times of the day when they are most upbeat, checking with your doctor before implementing. If your senior experiences sundowning syndrome, refrain from dispensing medicine from the late afternoon onwards. Find the optimum medicine routine and stick to it to reduce confusion.