Carers of people with dementia

Difficulties in taking medication and overcoming them

Where people with early symptoms of dementia are living on their own, carers often have reason to be concerned about their ability to use prescribed medication appropriately and there is not always an easy solution to this.

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When people develop dementia they may already be taking various prescribed or other medicines for a variety of conditions. It is often the case that people with dementia refuse to take their medications. This may be because they are suspicious of what is being offered or just part of a general reluctance to accept any persuasion from a carer. The carer may have to try to decide which medication to take a really firm line on and which can be left out. They will be helped by a GP or specialist who is able to make it clear the consequences of leaving off tablets and which ones might not be essential. One carer found that if he explained to his wife what he was doing she would usually accept the medication he was offering.

Carers might feel guilty about having to deceive the person with dementia to get them to the accept medication, but usually accept that to do this is better than to suffer the effects of under-medication. One daughter would trick her mother into taking her medicine by pretending that they were both sipping a glass of sherry. However she was concerned to think that carers in a residential home might be able to slip her mother some medication without her knowledge, and possibly without authorisation from herself or her doctor.

One carer described the efforts she has made to avoid using subterfuge in order to get her husband to accept medication, while admitting that when left to his own devices there was no way of being sure that he was taking the prescribed medicine.

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Last reviewed July 2018.

Last updated March 2015.


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