How can our family handle my stubborn, cantankerous dad when he refuses to take his medication for depression or Alzheimer's?

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Dad is becoming more difficult for us to deal with as he refuses to take medication for depression or Alzheimers.
He follows Mom around the house all day criticizing her when he isn't sleeping. He is getting to the point where he doesn't want to go anywhere and doesn't want Mom to leave the house even to walk the dog. He seems to cover up well with certain people but becomes agitated with my mother and sister who are around him the most. He goes to a VA(veteran's administration) doctor and denies that he is having any problems and gets mad when we "tell" on him. He gets mad when us kids who are in our 50's want to help he and Mom keep up the housework saying that he doesn't come to our house and tell us what 's wrong with our house and we shouldn't assume they want or need the help. Sometimes he jokes saying that he needs the exercise but does very little around the house. Any suggestions?

Answers 1 to 10 of 14
I guess until your dad admits that he can't do all the things that we once did, and that he actually HAS a problem, I don't see what you can do. His pride is getting in the way. I'm guessing that he leans more towards not wanting help and the pride thing, even when he was well, so it's just amplified now. I feel for your poor mother who must be circling the looney bin by now. Why not get her out of the house once in a while (if she's able), and take her for a 'girls day out' kind of thing. Leave your dad behind to see how it feels not to have her to criticize all the time. Maybe that will make him appreciate her a little more when she gets home. Make it a regular thing with your mom if you can.

As a clinician, I suggest you go on the Web and search for "Dealing With Mood Disorders and Behavior Changes in Alzheimer's Patients." Personally, my first thought was to lay him over my lap and spank him. In the meantime, I suggest some kind of Reward System for Good Behavior.

-- ED
It sounds as if your father was very much in charge of things prior to the onset of his illness. Would it help if you gave him certain jobs that could be " a huge help" for your mother? Regarding medication, I finally had to put the medication in the medication organizers so that my mother could not see the label. She was more willing to take meds that could be a vitamin than a med that might indicate illness. How old is your father? If he is of the WWII era, you may need to try to help him in a different way. Adults who experienced the Depression and WWII have different fears and outlooks than most people. Stay in touch.We all want to help. RLP
It might help if you could get someone from the outside, say someone from Area Agency on Aging, Senior Source or someone from the County to come in once a day to administer the meds and whoever the person is, they can say they come in to administer daily vitamins. I found that an outsider can get more done than a family member. Check with his physician if his meds can be given to him in his food.
Top Answer
I don't know enough about your situation to be sure, but it strikes me in your story -- and I notice this a lot in this forum -- that what everybody's tiptoeing around his anger. It's a patriarchal society and you're talking about a particularly patriarchal generation, let's not forget, and Daddy Gets Mad has been the thing that stopped people from doing what needed to be done for years and years. And it's certainly true that he can block important things by not cooperating. But you need to add to the equation the thought, SO WHAT? when he gets mad. There are practical things to do to get away from or minimize the impact of his anger and crappy behavior but it's probably also time to CALL him on it. Has anybody ever actually said, :You know what, Dad, it's not ok to criticize Mom like that, that's verbal abuse..." or "You know what, Dad, you need to take these medicines for your own sake and for everybody else's sake and you don't have to like it but you have to do it..." Then stand back for a bit, but keep it up, calmly, like a broken record. Sometimes it's like when little kids have been given too much power -- they're actually relieved to be told exactly what to do by someone who is calmly strong enough to insist.
Mailman, your Dad sounds just like what I have gone through with my MIL. At first she took her meds, then she started forgetting to take night meds, so now I deliver her meds daily and watch her take her night meds. She will NEVER miss a.m. because Nexium is "the staff of life"......:) She doesn't like it when we tell her to clean her house and once a month I go and clean. Her small home is attached to ours so she is close but not so close that I can't close and lock the door between us. I have found that being firm and not allowing her to argue will get me further. When she starts the attitude with me now I just firmly state again what is expected, give her a time limit and leave. Such as "it's bath day....I will be back in an hour". When I go back she is easier to handle. Of course right now maybe she's easier to handle because she has a new little decub on her butt that I am trying desperately to heal and not allow to worsen. Try giving your Dad some little chores to do while you clean....I find it detracts from you and you are able to get things done. When you said "kids" I take it you have sibling support....good for you! Take turns getting Mom out of the house for some relief...she will appreciate that so much. Unfortunately the dementia will never go away, I find that daily there are changes and I am learning to deal with them as they come.
Your local ALZ association could be of some help also. They may have some classes you could attend.
I read through the suggestions above (good input!) but I would like to mention the obvious again.

With depression AND/OR Alzheimer's leaving him behind is not a smart thing to do. (Sorry NAHeaton), but doing so may just make him react/respond VERY agressively, and may cause more harm when Mom is there alone with him. Why not take Mom out and someone ELSE stay with Dad just to 'watch tv'. Don't confront him, just observe him. Maybe TRY to get him involved in some common activity he used to do, but don't correct him, or try to make him do something he doesn't want to do. Do this OFTEN, as if it were just part of everyone's life.

Make a LIST of things you think he could help with, and then just START one of those things, like organizing the garage, or sorting screw, nails, bolts, anything.

NEXT: Make sure MOM is safe. I have to say, don't take her word for it, SHE may be covering up what Dad does when they are alone. I am not accusing "Dad" of doing anything wrong, but I saw how strong my 98 pound mother was when she got MAD!! Be careful.

About Medication. Ask the doctor (PRIVATELY) if there is a liquid version, if not, what can be 'smashed' and put in pudding/cupcake, whatever that he WILL eat! Please don't talk to his doctor in front of him. He is being defensive, and I have also notice that when 'angered' those with dementia seem to be able to 'seem normal' almost as a defense mechanism. Just prepare a note (email if you can) for the doctor and provide it for the doctor BEFORE the visit. Hey.... at least your Dad is still going to the doctors willingly!! Make sure that the doctor is aware of odd behavior, and if this seems 'sudden' have him tested for a UTI (Urinary tract infection). Less common in men, but STILL possible

God bless... be patient, be creative, and BE THERE for both of them!
my husband has frontotemporal dementia and also has refused to take his meds. i am not always able to cajole him into taking them, especially if he is in a bad mood, so i will put the small pills into chunky ice creams and he eats it right up. sometimes, bargaining with him will work, i.e. if you take this pill, i'll get you a piece of pie. whatever works. other times he can be reasoned with and i tell him it is his responsibility to take the medicine so that he will be calm and not angry and it will make life easier for all of us. tell him it's not good for his heart to be angry all the time. i agree with "always learning" that, at least in my experience, the demented person can be made aware of their bad behavior and that it's not OK to act that way, and they can respond by acting better. sometimes the more you baby them, the more they may act like big babies. as far as him doing chores around the house, good luck with that one, just be glad he doesn't make alot of extra messes your poor mother has to clean up. see if he can handle sweeping or vacuuming; even if he doesn't do a good job it might keep him busy for awhile. most of all, be sure to give your mother some relief in the form of sitting with your father so she can get out, especially for a day or two at a time once in awhile, if you can manage it, to visit relatives or friends, or even go relax in a hotel. between you and your sister and your families, try to give her time out of the house at least once a week for a few hours, and not just to run errands and go to appointments. you will see how very hard it can be to take care of a loved one with dementia. be sure to read the book "the 36 hour day". "creating moments of joy" is also good. be strong and of good faith and courage, because it's a cruel disease.
I've seen this happen with my mother. As the disease progresses they become paranoid and fearful. We also have had problems lately getting mom to take her meds. Her doctor has ordered Hospice respite care and we now have liquid forms of xanax (for sleep and agitation) on hand. One of the meds for dementia is Exelon, which comes in a patch and easier than getting them to swallow a pill. What you are experiencing is normal, but it does not make it any less frustrating to deal with!

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