How do we get Dad to take over Mom's medications, as she can't do it correctly?

2 answers | Last updated: Oct 08, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

I read your responses to managing medications for someone in early alzheimer's. However my mother is clearly no longer capable of taking her daily medications on her own yet my father continues to let her do so with minimal supervision. Can you post an answer for someone who can no longer remember what they were doing in that moment. I takes her half the day to get dressed because she gets distracted and can't remember what she was doing so she does whatever is in front of her. She has access to the pill bottles and the days of the week pill box. She drops the box and will put them back in the wrong slots. I will check the box and she will not be taking the current day of the week. She will try to refill them on her own without my father's knowledge so there is no way to no if she is taking too many or too few until the end of the month. Before my father started picking up the precriptions she once went six weeks without taking her aricept. So he is resistant to managing this. Can you advise him how to take over managing the medications and why he should?

Expert Answers

Helene Bergman, LMSW, is a certified geriatric care manager (C-ASWCM) and owner of Elder Care Alternatives, a professional geriatric care management business in New York City. She consults with nursing homes and daycare programs to develop specialized programs for Alzheimer's patients.

Medication management is often an issue for those with early Alzheimer's. At that stage, they are usually struggling to maintain control and autonomy and spouse caregivers are confronted with this dilemma. Assuming responsibility for this task can be very challenging if the well spouse is in denial about his wife's losses or if he is reluctant to infringe on her self determination. Often this reluctance is related to the dynamics of their historical marital relationship. Before any changes occur, he needs more education assistance with his resistance. A caregiver support group {www.Alzheimer'} can be beneficial.

Once he has a better understanding that her memory deficits coupled with other cognitive losses interfere with her ability to manage her medications and put her at great risk for mismanagement, he may be ready to assume this task. Firstly, he will need to secure the medication vials out of her sight; this will insure she will not overmedicate. Then he will need to pour them (with her if she is willing) into a medication box planner. Then he will need to remind her when to administer and nurture her control as much as feasible. If doing the latter is too problematic, it is recommended that either a professional (i.e. other family member, Geriatric Care Manager)help with this task. Often bringing in a third person who is objective and less emotionally involved can deflect a dementia patient's opposition or anger toward her spouse. It can also take the burden off of the well spouse and help maintain their marital relationship.

Community Answers

Concerned 123 answered...

Thank you.