Our carers are compassionate and caring people who will always be sensitive to balancing your wishes and your needs. While you have the right to refuse your medication, your carer will want to work closely with you and your wider healthcare team to discover the reasons you don’t want to take it and do what they can to help you make an informed decision.
Dementia and refusal
If someone is living with dementia, they may refuse to take their medication for other reasons but may not be able to express what they are. If the person is far along their dementia journey they may be non-verbal, and by refusing to take medication may be labelled as ‘being difficult’ by those around them. No behaviour should ever be written off in this manner when someone is living with dementia but especially when it comes to them not wanting to take medication. There will always be a reason for their refusal, and the Alzheimer’s Society tells us that “It can be because the medicine is hard to swallow, tastes unpleasant or causes side effects such as nausea” and that “If this situation arises, you should raise it with the person who prescribed the medication.”
Explaining the importance of taking the medication
Calmly explaining why a medication is important may have a marked difference on a person who is refusing to take it. Perhaps they are feeling as if control for their own life and decisions has been taken away from them and they are objecting in the only way available to them. They may have held a position of responsibility when working or have been in the medical field, so explaining to them and respecting their expertise may help. No-one wants to feel as if they no longer have control over their own decisions, even if someone else is acting on their behalf, so being mindful of their feelings and ‘stepping into their shoes’ may just be the action they need to have a conversation about it.
Taking medication in another form
Many medications come in alternative forms if people are struggling to take them as prescribed. This could be changing from a tablet or capsule form to a liquid for instance. A person could be resistant to taking their medication simply because they are worried about the possibility of choking, or because it tastes bitter, so by talking to the GP about it being prescribed in another form may ease those fears. Depending on whether the person has mental capacity or not will affect whether someone can make those decisions on their behalf or not, but even so they should always be included in the process, even if they are unable to make informed decisions unassisted.
Speaking to medical professionals
Medical professionals will often be able to suggest alternatives to medication worries if it’s becoming a real problem. Talking to the GP, community nurse, or other member of the person’s wider healthcare team may bring forward solutions, and partnership working is always a great way of sharing knowledge and resources to the benefit of the person being cared for. The GP may be able to prescribe to have medication hidden inside food for instance, to conceal the taste and reduce the anxiety for the person taking it, but this should only ever be done on medical advice and in the person’s best interests.
Time of day
Technology now exists to help people to remember to take medication at certain times, but if they’re refusing it because they don’t like the time of the day they have to take it this should be discussed with the GP. Perhaps they don’t like taking it first thing in the morning because their throat is dry when they first wake up? This could be countered by making sure they always have a drink of water to hand, or perhaps the medication could be delayed until they’ve had their morning cup of tea? This should be discussed with a medical professional though as administration times of day will often be crucial to the effectiveness of the medication.
Having a carer to remind them
By having a Helping Hands carer living in your home with you or visiting regularly you’ll always have someone on hand to discuss your medication worries with. Our carers will manage your medication for you if necessary, including prompting you to take it on time, collecting it from the pharmacy, administering, and ordering more when you’re running low. They’ll also arrange a GP appointment and accompany you to the surgery if you struggle to get there on your own. Our comprehensive elderly care services mean that we’ll design you a package of support to suit you, which will be flexible enough to change as your needs do.