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If an elderly loved one refuses to take their medicine, is it elder abuse to force them to take it?

Asked by  |  Jun 28, 2011

I want to know is it abusive to make my mother take her medication even though she doesn't want too?

 
 
 

Carol Bradley Bursack, Jun 29, 2011

Over the span of two decades, author, columnist, consultant and speaker Carol Bradley Bursack cared for a neighbor and six elderly family members. Her experiences inspired her to pen, "Minding Our Elders: Caregivers Share Their Personal Stories," a portable support group book for caregivers.

 

Here, here, Lilliput! Fantastic answer all the way. I agree.
Carol

 
 

anonymous13319

Give a Hug

Jun 28, 2011

If she is competent, there is really no way you can force her to take her medications. It is her right to refuse. Have you included her doctor in on these discussions? My Mom thinks that if a doctor says something then it must be true.
Why does your Mom not want to take her meds? Does she have a hard time swallowing them? Does she think that they are not working? What are the consequences if she stops taking them?
As far as "abusive" I am not sure what you mean by this. You can only ask or insist...you can't physically make her take them.
Sounds like a bit of a power struggle is going on. Maybe if you drop the subject for awhile, maybe she'll see that she is no longer pushing your buttons.

 
 

sak9

Give a Hug

Jun 30, 2011

(1)Permit me to address the issue psychologically/spiritually. When elders see their health and life purpose deteriorating , they are subconsciously desiring to pass over as quickly as possible and one way is to stop taking medication. Share with your mother that her decision to not take her meds is OK and end the conversation with "remember how much I love you."
(2) We never "force" any elder to take medication, however, with a bit of investigation we have found that some elders can not swallow pills without a cracker or toast.Try this to see if that is the problem.
(3) Crush the meds and put in applesauce.
(4)Contact the physician to see if the medication can be purchased in liquid form.
(5)Depending on what the medication is, vitamins or homeopathics can take its place for a short period and are often more acceptable to an elder.
(6) We have also found that cankers in the mouth or sores beneath dentures can stop an elder from taking meds or eating poorly.
(7) Does the medication cause stomach distress? A change of meds?

 
 

yellowfeever

Give a Hug

Jun 30, 2011

Sometime ago my mom used to "refuse" meds. Questioning "why" she needed them. We argued, I yelled, my husband yelled, but it was a daily fight. I began to "hide" her meds in food. I crushed bigger pills and opened up capsules and dumped into applesauce or pudding. It did work for me. I knew I was at the end of a losing battle,especially when mom was compentent enough to say NO!!! Since I commited myself as her caregiver, I felt it was my duty to figure out another alternative to administer meds. Mom needed her meds and refusing them would complicate her health. In turn, making me feel like I was neglecting her needs.
Talk to her doctor. Some meds can be prescribed in liquid form and some can be rectally given. Crushing meds is okay unless pill is Time Released. But her doctor can help you with that.
If your mom takes large number of meds, try to weed out those that might not be life-sustaining medications.(please talk to doctor first). Less pills might take away the overwhelming sensation seeing a bunch of pills in front of her everyday.Which she might be more willing to take only a few.
My mom finally came back around to taking her meds. But I always made it a habit and still do of giving meds to her in a sequence of importance to least. So if she refuses after the first few then I know that her "important " meds I at least got in her. I spent HOURS researching all moms meds determining how I should compile her meds. I based it on the life-sustaining first, then moved on to those that had greatest risks if she missed a dose and so on.
Lilliput is right to drop the subject for a while. If your not physically man-handling her then your not abusing her. Trust me I have fought with my mom over and over again about things. I felt bad yelling but I did it out of love for mom. I know if the role was reversed she would have done the same back at me.
Just take a breathe it WILL BE ALRIGHT!!!!

 
 

AlzCaregiver

Give a Hug

Jun 30, 2011

This is a good time, perhaps, to go on a drug vacation, with cooperation of her doctor. The protocol for this is called Beers Criteria. So many drugs you think are helping your elder, over time they build up in the body and then they become harmful. Psyche drugs that help quell anxiety or delusions work for a few months, then can backfire. Bladder control meds, cholesterol lowering meds, even Benedryl has an adverse effect on brain functioning) ... all can have adverse effects. So perhaps use this opportunity to reassess all the meds, try 2-3 weeks without taking them (some have to be weaned off...some have withdrawal symptoms) and note the reactions. Bet you anything that memory and mental functioning improve.

The gerontologist I heard lecture on this said that elders' kidneys and livers can no longer clear stuff from the body effectively, so changing from long term to fast-release versions is helpful.

And when you get to be very very elderly and frail, drugs like bone strengthening Rxs, because of the long term scope of its action, it just isn't necessary any more. Stopping it takes one more drug out of the cocktail.

The protocol for coming off drugs is called Beers Criteria or Beers list. Easy to find on the net. If the doctor does not know about this, find another doctor.

If your loved one is suffering from dementia, you may be surprised to find a dramatic improvement (or perhaps there might be a few troublesome weeks of withdrawal). So to help prevent the outbursts and fights, go with the flow for awhile. Say "we'll talk to the doctor about which drugs we can eliminate, ok?"

 
 

AlzCaregiver

Give a Hug

Jun 30, 2011

Really, see if a few can be eliminated all together. When it gets to the point that medicine taking itself is a battle,....well then, let's RX a drug to help combat the combativeness. Pills tend to pile up, with doctors prescribing another drug to help control some side effect of this tangled mess. I am wondering if the whole nation went on a drug vacation for three weeks....what would happen. Dementia situation improves dramatically, people more awake and alert. Such a simple solution and it costs nothing (less than nothing). Then reassess what really to take and what can be let go. Notice side effects as drugs are restarted. I have had great results with Mom doing this. She is now on NOTHING at all, cept tylenol. and I wish that came in a patch. Pills...ugh.

 
 

Jaye

Give a Hug

Jun 30, 2011

This is a hard topic... My Mother had a heart attack not even two weeks after my Father passed away last summer. She will tell you that she had a broken heart, which of course was true. She has been on medication of course since. It is been a real battle at times. One of her problems is that she wants to go to heaven and be with my Dad. They were married almoat 63 years. I have had to fuss with her several times to get her to take them. I always set them up in the planners for her every week. And sometimes remind her. I DONOT however force her. We have talked about what could happen if she does not take them. I have also pointed out to her numerous times that she is important to us and that we love her, very much. take care God bless...

 
 

raetay

Give a Hug

Jun 30, 2011

I use pudding instead of apple sauce. I can't imagine how horrible the pill would be to eat it crushed, then to put it with something a bit sour...yuk! Do check with her doctor though, because some pills should not be crushed. I agree with all the other's. If she is able to tell you why she is not taking them, you can help her. If she is not in the right frame of mind to make good decisions for herself, then by all means, it is exactly like a child who refuses. If I felt that my mother needed the meds to live (she is not able to make choices) I would for sure find a way to get them in her food, drink etc... I am her care taker, so I take care of her. Good luck, this too shall pass.

 
 

ADaughter

Give a Hug

Jun 30, 2011

My dad didn't want to take his medications because of their cost. We found ways to reduce some of the medication, get generic for others, change his prescription drug plan, etc. to help ease his worry.

 
 

oldmanfriend

Give a Hug

Jun 30, 2011

I am wondering if it kind of is like a child, sometimes as a parent you have to give them medication with out them wanting it, but they need it RIGHT ! Best idea is to speak to her doctor and find out why she doesn't want to take it. Maybe it is making her sick to her stomach, or other side effects.
So, I would drop the issue and ask more in depth questions of why she doesn't feel she needs it.Then maybe think of other ways of giving it to her like in applesauce or in a smoothie just as long as she s getting it.

 

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