5 Common Reasons for Medicine Resistance, and How to Overcome Them

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Medications may be preserving your loved one's health and well-being -- but they only work if they're taken properly. Here are some tips for ensuring that happens:

If the size of the pill is a problem . . .

Ask the doctor about alternate formulations, such as liquids, injectibles, or smaller pills. Some pills may be crushed -- but for others, the way the drug is released into the body is affected if you do so, either rendering them ineffective or putting your loved one at risk of overdosing. So always ask the pharmacist if it's OK to crush a pill before trying it.

If taste is a problem . . .

Ask the pharmacist if the medication can be served with chocolate milk, ice cream, or applesauce. Some drugs can even be prepared by the pharmacy as sweeter-tasting concoctions.

If side effects are a problem . . .

Some people avoid their meds because they don't like the way they feel afterward: A diuretic may make someone urinate often, for example, or an antidepressant may bring on a headache. If you're noticing your loved one hiding pills or refusing to take them, ask about side effects.

Then mention these to the doctor to see if a dosage needs adjusting. If that can't happen, avoid power struggles; don't nag or lecture your loved one. Instead, use empathy and appeal to love and reason: "I know you hate the way that pill makes you feel; it must be awful. But do you remember why you're taking it in the first place? It's helping to keep you healthy, and I don't want to risk losing you by your not taking a little pill."

If forgetfulness is a problem . . .

Make pill-taking more habitual by doing it at the same time every day, with the same cues, such as serving the med in the same little cup placed next to the morning cereal bowl, at the same time every day. Use alarm reminders, too.

If self-pity is a problem . . .

Nobody likes to feel like the "sick one" in the household. Try getting everyone to take their daily meds all together at the same time, if possible -- even if for some people, this is just a daily vitamin. Seeing everyone take pills can help your loved one feel less isolated.


Paula Spencer Scott

Paula Spencer Scott is the author of Surviving Alzheimer's: Practical Tips and Soul-Saving Wisdom for Caregivers and much of the Alzheimer's and caregiving content on Caring. See full bio