My grandma has Alzheimer's but refuses to take medication

She lives alone. What can I do?

Scot Cheben
Scot Cheben
Senior Advisor

My first question to you is, "Do you or a loved one live nearby?"  If so, there are several ways to go about this.  You can take turns checking in on her.  You would have to make a schedule for everyone to follow.  I would have to suggest that someone layout all of her meds in a pill box for the week ahead.  Following a schedule, the person for that day might give her a call around the time that she needs to take them and remind her.  Stay on the phone until she takes them.  Keep it positive.  The conversation should be similar to...  "Hi grandma.  Hope you are doing fine.  You asked me to call you and remind you to take your meds at noon."  Again, stay on the phone until she takes them.  It is a bit of a "fib" but it works.  When you make it sound like she requested it, she will be less offended as if you were just checking up on her.  Every week when the meds are refilled you can see how many days were missed.  It would be good to note for her next visit with the doctor.  

If you don't live by, you might look into asking a neighbor or friend that visits often.  If that isn't an option either, You might want to discuss your situation with a local home care agency to assist.  You might have to have someone fill the pill boxes as this procedure might not be performed by all home care agencies.  Ask them if they can do this before contracting with them.  There might be alternatives that they could suggest.  

There are electronic medication dispensers that will remind her at specific times to take her meds.  Some even offer to phone her if does take them.  These are billed to a credit card every month.  Keep in mind that you are still responsible to get them filled by a qualified person.  

Please keep in mind that if you are giving her meds and she doesn't want to take them for whatever reason, you can always crush them and put them in applesauce.  DO NOT crush just any pill.  Check with your pharmacist to see if it can be crushed.  Some medications have time released layers.  Always check with your doctor as well before changing her care or meds and get their input first.  

This is not an easy job and can be time consuming for anyone.  If the medication is something that is very important that she takes on a regular schedule and could cause problems if she misses them, you may be faced with considering a facility for her.  These are things to discuss with her doctor about.  

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