How can I get my mom to take her medication without fighting with her about it?

2 answers | Last updated: Oct 01, 2016
Theprib54 asked...

My mom, had a stroke, can't walk, has dementia fights me every night when I give her her meds. She is bedridden, weighs 120ish, I weigh 105. I am getting so tired of holding her arms down by using a blanket over them as the nurse suggested, but just wondering is there any other way. If I don't, she'll hit me, hit the meds out of my hands, or scream "help me", turn her head or close her mouth. It's only when she is yelling that I can get the meds in her mouth and often she'll spit them out. I don't want to bruise her which I have done in the past but I don't know what else to do. She has swallowing issues due to the stroke and only drinks Ensure. Morning meds are usually easier as she's coming off Seroquel at night. But the p.m. meds are usually a battle. I don't like upsetting her and me! Any other suggestions?? All her meds are crushed and mixed with chocolate pudding.

Expert Answers

Jennifer Serafin, N.P. is a registered nurse and geriatric nurse practitioner at the Jewish Homes for the Aged in San Francisco.

I often have patients with dementia that have refused to take medications. I have tried all kinds of tricks to get them to take their meds; talking with them, hiding meds in ice cream, telling them it's candy, etc. These might work for a little while, but it usually doesn't last. I don't know if you have ever tried chocolate pudding with crushed medications in it, but it is not tasty! Instead, I would suggest:

1) Call her health care provider and ask if you can cut out some of her medications to encourage her to take the ones she really needs. Perhaps they can even change the medication times to the morning or lunchtime, so that you can avoid giving her medication in the evening.
2) You can also try asking for liquid form of the medication instead of a pill. Seroquel doesn't come in a liquid form, but other antipsychotics do. One comes in a quick dissolving tablet (zydis) that will dissolve on contact with the mouth. These will dissolve easily in juice or some other drink, which she might take without problems.
I cannot believe that a nurse suggested holding her arms down using a blanket to get your mother to take medication! NO MEDICATION IS THAT IMPORTANT! If she refuses to take her medications, so be it. I would never recommend restraining someone to get them to take medication. This is not worth the fight, as there is a chance that you or your mother could be seriously injured. Also, she already has issues with swallowing, so this may cause her to choke. Instead, I would try my suggestions above. I hope that this helps you. Good luck!

Community Answers

Theprib54 answered...

thank you. Unfortunately, we have tried all of the above. We have gone through every medicine and all have to be taken. We have talked with the pharmacist and gone through all of them seeing if they come in different forms too. And for instance, there's a trade off between crushing 1 pill and taking 2 T. of one of the liquid meds. If she drinks too much liquid without Thicket, she'll choke. And her Dilantin is very important. She'd have seizures if she didn't take it. I just have to continue trying to coax her and put a blanket over her arms. I don't know what else to do. Two different nurses told me the same thing to do that.