Is it elder abuse if my mother-in-law refuses to take her medication?

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My 93 year old MIL has high blood pressure and breast cancer. We have just gotten her to go to the Dr and her blood pressure is like 170/110 and the cancer tumor is the size of a lemon. The Dr's given her medication for both issues but she either doesn't remember to take them or doesn't want to take them. We have tried to determine if she understands what it means if she doesn't take the meds and she just getts angry. Both my husband and I are at a loss of what to do. She lives alone in a condo, she has finial stopped driving, she can't shop for herself, as she can't make it around the store. She has trouble paying her bills and now she is working on send out her Holiday cards and she can't remember who she has sent cards to. We know that the short term memory is gone. In Sept, we finial talked her in to having a home health care aid come in and do light house keeping once a week. But it seems like each week we have to reconvince my MIL that she needs someone to come in. My husband does have POA but what else can we do about the medical issues?

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I'm not sure you can force her to take the meds, but if you can grind them up (check with a pharmacist first) and put them in her food, you may get them down her. I realize that since you don't live with her, this could be impractical, anyway.
She maybe just doesn't care anymore. Either that, or she forgets what they are for or thinks they aren't important.
She could be a candidate for assisted living, if you can convince her to move. However, if she is doing well the way she is living, you may not be able to do a thing. The POA is for financial issues, but unless you get guardianship, I'm not sure you can force a move. That would likely depend on the state where she lives.
It's frustrating, to say the least, when people we love won't take care of themselves. You may want to ask the doctor for suggestions.
Good luck,
I don't know why everything has to be 'abuse' . Not just in this case but many times I read the same thing over and over. Seems to me that word is being 'abused' :). Some people are just stubborn. They have been for all their lives and they will die that way.
No. I don't think she is abusing herself. I don't think she intentionally wants to hurt herself.

It could be forgetfulness. She can't remember who she sent cards to; she can't remember if she took her pills.

I can't imagine what kind of cancer the size of a lemon is going to respond to a pill. Perhaps she is preparing to die and taking pills is pointless in her mind.

Sorry to hear that your mom is refusing to take her medication. Unfortunately this is a common issues in many elders and from my understanding it is not elder abuse. Below is an article that can you help you with ways to get your mom to take her medication.

Top 6 Medication Problems and How to Prevent Them

Best of Luck,
Karie H. Team
Thank you to everyone who has responded. While my MIL may forget to take her meds, the big thing is, she thinks she knows more than the Dr. At this point, it is her choice to take the meds or not, I am finding out. We will just have to deal with the fall out later. She is a woman she states she is fiercely independant, refused help when many of us offer. When you try and help she might as well just bit your head off. It is so hard to understand why she is willing to take such a high risk by not taking the meds and loose that independance that she so dearly loves. But I also feel that it is asking alot from us. Becuase by not taking the meds and putting her health at even greater risk, if the cancer spreads and she breaks bones, we will have to be there to take care of her. If she has a stoke because of the high blood pressure, we will be there to care for her. Where as if she takes the meds, the risk is reduced.
She so sounds like my MIL.
Perhaps she would prefer pallative care? Older people often live with much pain. MD's don't seem to appreciate how hard this makes life for them and do little to alleviate it. It seems like the hospice folk get the idea. Personally, if she is 93 and doesn't want to take meds to extend her life and has a measure of mental competence, doesn't she have the right to make the decision? Does she have her end of life decisions in writing? Can you discuss this with her? Your taking care of her means seeing her needs are cared for...perhaps not doing everything yourself. Ask her what she wants you to do if she falls and breaks a hip...has a stroke....etc. My MIL is actually happier when we are not there (she's over 2 hrs away from us) In her somewhat delusional mind she is in control and all is well. On our weekly stays, she senses she needs help which makes her very unhappy. And we make changes...she feels she has lost control. No doubt your MIL may feel the same.

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