Sometimes it can be a challenge to get Alzheimer’s patients to take their required medications. Depending on their cognitive ability, they may feel that they are being forced to take something against their will, may be afraid of what they are being “forced” to ingest, or simply may be upset over their loss of independence.
Assisting Alzheimer’s Patients
- Stay Calm, Create Calm: An Alzheimer’s patient may get agitated when it is time to take their medication. Therefore, take a few deep breaths and calm yourself before engaging in the process. You may want to put on some soft music, and make sure you are in a quiet environment without noise and chaos. Speak in a measured tone and don’t allow their reaction to get you upset, or else you may make it more difficult than it needs to be. If you find that the situation is escalating, back off and try again in 15 minutes.
- Look for Signs of Illness: Alzheimer’s patients may resist medication because it makes them feel sick. If they experience any pain, nausea or discomfort after taking medications, they are likely to fight you on administration. This is understandable, and the situation should be discussed with their doctor to see if there is any alternative to their current medications.
- Review their Daily Intake: By the time an elderly patient is also dealing with dementia, they may have amassed a large quantity of medications. Periodically check with the doctor to see if every medication is still necessary, and limit medication to only those which are deemed essential. The fewer pills they need to swallow, the less likelihood of a battle. You may also wish to check to see if there are liquid forms of the medicines, or if they can be safely crushed. This may allow you to add to food or drinks for easier consumption.
- Be an Ally: You may find that some Alzheimer’s patients will more readily take their medications if they are not doing it alone. Therefore, if you take medications, perhaps see if you can time your dosage with theirs, so that you can both take your medication together. If you do not take medication, you can still simulate with some other item you can quickly chew and swallow, such as M&Ms or raisins. The idea is that you are both taking your “medicine” and they are not alone.
- Timing is Everything: Many caregivers quickly learn that the mood of a dementia patient can vary greatly throughout the day. Some may have more clarity in the morning, others in the afternoon. By timing medication with their “best time of day” whenever possible, you are giving yourself the best chance of success.
- Be Consistent: Routine is very important to dementia patients. The more that seems familiar to them, the better. If you set the same environment, present the medication at the same time, and follow the same steps, it will be less scary to them. You may also wish to have a reward for them after their medication – for instance, having their favorite candy or cup of tea waiting for when they successfully take their medications.
Overall, any sense of familiarity that you can establish is sure to go a long way to making the entire process easier. Remember, anyone suffering with this disease has moments of confusion and anxiety, so your demeanor will have a significant impact on their overall comfort level when taking medication.
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