Is there a way to avoid having the same conversation every day with Mom about her medication?

1 answer | Last updated: Sep 27, 2016
Lennie asked...

I suspect my mother has not been taking her medications like she was supposed to. Now that I am supervising her meds she argues with me most of the time that "she doesn't take this many pills" I have filled her pillbox according to the labels on the med bottles, and am pretty sure they are right. I have been going over meds list with her every time but cannot convince her I am giving her the right ones. Is there a way to avoid this conversation each time or should I just keep showing her every time that she is taking the right dose?

Expert Answers

Jytte Lokvig, PhD, coaches families and professional caregivers and designs life-enrichment programs and activities for patients with Alzheimer's disease and related dementia. Her workshops and seminars help caregivers and families create a healthy environment based on dignity and humor. She is the author of Alzheimer's A to Z: A Quick-Reference Guide.

Many a caregiver of a person with Alzheimer's shares your aggravation at having the same discussion over and over again. Your mom is overwhelmed by the sheer number of pills. The dispenser pillboxes with a small compartment for each day of the week easily look like they are overflowing and may give the illusion of many more pills than are actually in there. You could try pillboxes with bigger compartments, which would make the pills look smaller.

In any event, when your mom complains, rather than trying to explain to her for the umpteenth time, validate her feelings. I.e. "Gee Mom, you're right. That's a lot of pills. Let's see why you have so many." And then read her the list (with sympathy.) With variations of this daily routine, you may find that her attitude changes after a couple weeks and she no longer pays attention to the number of tablets.

If these are critical medications that must be administered at prescribed intervals, use whatever trick in the book. If you suspect she's overwhelmed by the sheer number of pills, you could give them to her in two rounds, i.e. first round at 9am and the next at 9:30am for example - or one round before lunch and one after. Some medications are available as time-release patches or in liquid form. Check with her pharmacy.

Elders in the United States are notoriously over medicated. As we age our metabolism changes and we are increasingly more susceptible to dangerous drug reactions and interactions. It's important to review our drug protocols periodically. If some of your mother's medications are elective drugs, it might be a good idea to review them with her pharmacist and her doctor.