Pittsburgh / Allison Park Senior Care Blog

What to Do When a Senior with Alzheimer’s Won’t Take Medicines

By Amy Felman

People with Alzheimer’s disease can have all sorts of behaviors that are hard for caregivers to manage. One of those is taking medications. They may refuse to take them because of confusion or because they feel afraid. In addition, being told to take medicine can make them feel as though they have no control over their lives, which might make them angry or frustrated. Regardless of the reason the older adult refuses their medication, caregivers know how important it is to get them to comply so that they can remain as healthy as possible. Below are some tips to try the next time your loved one refuses their medications.

Check Your Own Mood First

If the thought of another medicine time struggle has you agitated and nervous, take some time to calm yourself before even bringing up the subject. Older adults with Alzheimer’s are often able to pick up on how caregivers are feeling, which may heighten their emotions as well. Take some deep breaths and resolve to be optimistic about the situation.

Make the Environment Calm and Pleasant

Quiet the room where the older adult will take their medicine. Turn off the television and eliminate distractions. Turn on some quiet music to soothe them.

Eliminate Medications That Aren’t Needed

Doctors aren’t always aware of everything a patient is taking. Your aging relative might be still taking a drug or supplement that is no longer helpful or necessary. Take a list of everything they are currently taking to the doctor for review, including prescription and over the counter drugs as well as supplements. Ask the doctor if there are any that can be eliminated or if some might have forms that are easier to take. Fewer pills may create less of a struggle.

Pair Taking Medications with Something Pleasant

Consider offering something the older adult likes each time they take medicines. For example, a caregiver might always offer the senior a favorite snack or a fun activity after each time they take their medicine (whether it goes well or not). This can help them to associate taking medicine with things that make them happy.

Buddy Up

A person with Alzheimer’s disease might be less resistant if you take your medications at the same time they take theirs. Seeing a caregiver take medication can make the activity less confusing because the senior can mimic the actions. If you don’t have any medications to take, use small candies, like M&Ms in place of pills.



If you or an aging loved one are considering hiring caregivers in Wexford, PA, please call the caring staff at Home Helpers. Call today (412) 364-4663.