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When Your Loved One With Memory Loss Refuses Medication

When Your Loved One With Memory Loss Refuses Medication

March 7, 2018

There are many challenges that come along with caring for a loved one with memory loss. Whether you are dealing with the early  or later stages of memory loss, the symptoms can be troubling. From wandering and sundowning to forgetting familiar activities and lessening abilities, it can be hard to understand what your loved one is feeling. In fact, their feelings could range from being depressed and withdrawn to agitated, suspicious and angry. When this occurs, they may begin to act out, and one of the ways they may do so is to refuse their medications or take them incorrectly.

According to Alison Wall, Senior Living Consultant at TreVista Antioch, an assisted living and memory care community in Antioch, CA, many caregivers are already more stressed and burnt out than they wish to be, and the refusal of medications can make it worse. “If your loved one begins to refuse taking their medicines, you may be at a loss of what to do. You know they need them, and so do they, but this doesn’t mean your loved one will act rationally and take them,” says Alison. “Reasoning with your loved one may seem like it will work, but memory loss can make it difficult for your loved one to understand the vast importance of taking their medicine. Unfortunately, there could also be a number of other reasons you loved one may not take their medications, and it could help to get to the bottom of it to ease the process.”

Reasons your loved one may not take medications.

Understanding the reason your loved one refuses their medications can not only help you find ways to make taking medicines easier for them, but it can also help you understand more about their preferences. Consider some of the most common reasons your loved one with memory loss might be refusing their medication.

  • They simply forget. When your loved one has memory loss, it can be difficult to see them forgetting to take their medications. If your loved one repeatedly forgets, mixes up medicines or does not take them at the right time, it can be frustrating. As memory loss progresses, it may become more important that you manage their medication for them.
  • The medication doesn’t taste good. Many of us can recall a medicine we’ve taken that’s just left a bad taste in our mouths. If your loved one states that their medications don’t taste good, talk to their doctor to see if there is something else that you can do to help. They can let you know if their medicines can be crushed up and put into food they love or taken with something other than water.
  • They may not like how it can make them feel. If your loved one is refusing medication, be sure to ask how it is making them feel. If they start listing some side effects that are unpleasant, give their doctor a call. They may be able to prescribe something different or help you decrease the symptoms that are occurring.

Once you’ve determined why they aren’t taking their medications or why they could be refusing them, it’s likely that your problems may go away and that your loved one will continue taking them.

What should I do if my loved one keeps refusing medication?

If the reason your loved one with memory loss is refusing medication isn’t alleviated through making the above changes, it could mean there’s something more going on. Try some of the following tips.

  • Make it easy for them to take medicine. If your loved one gets upset when they see multiple medications in one area, make it easier by giving them only one at a time.
  • Ensure the area around them is calm. Those with memory loss can become distracted easily. If they are in a loud, stimulating environment, they may be more prone to agitation and less likely to take their medicine. Find a quiet and calm place for them to take their medicine.
  • Talk to their doctor. If your loved one with memory loss states that they take too many medicines, talk to their doctor to see which ones they really need and what they are for.
  • Consider waiting a few minutes. When talking to their doctor, be sure to ask if certain medications must be taken at certain times. If they do not need to be, there’s no problem with waiting a few minutes after they refuse the medication and then trying again.
  • Create a routine. If you notice your loved one takes medications well at certain times of the day, try to create a routine around them. This could make it easier for them to not only remember to take medicines, but to refuse them less, as well.


For more information on what to do when a loved one with memory loss is refusing to take medicines, the team at TreVista Antioch can help. We can provide advice, tips and support to make it easier for both you and your loved one. Call us today at 925•329•6292.

Making the everyday extraordinary.

Family-owned and operated, Agemark Senior Living is the new owner of TreVista Antioch. Known for creating warm, welcoming communities, vibrant lifestyles and engaging programming, Agemark has been one of the most premier and trusted senior living providers since 1987. As Agemark’s newest community, TreVista Antioch is located on 10 acres in a prime location close to shopping and local attractions, as well as the great outdoors. Our beautiful community features a personalized, resident-centric approach to care that provides support, all while helping residents live full, connected lives.

At TreVista Antioch, we provide assisted living and memory care set in a beautiful environment that not only meets our residents’ needs but makes them, as well as their families, feel more at home. Although our gorgeous community is a plus, we truly believe it’s our programming and caring, dedicated staff that makes TreVista home. With our family-oriented inspiration and resident-centric approach, our residents flourish and experience days full of joy and meaning. Our staff learns each resident’s likes and dislikes and their values and pasts, right down to the dreams they never thought they could accomplish, in order to customize their care and make their dreams a reality.

LifeCycles wellness programming encourages our residents to connect, engage and enjoy life, every day. Our LifeCycles programming is designed to focus on the four dimensions of wellness: physical, social, spiritual and intellectual. This is achieved through a wide range of daily activities and routines, from outings and excursions to local events and programming at the community. At TreVista Antioch, our residents have the tools and care they need to make each day fulfilling, engaging and vibrant. Contact us to learn more!

Call us at 925•237•1952 for more information or to schedule a personal visit today.

TreVista Antioch is part of the Agemark family of senior living communities.