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How to Manage Reluctance to Taking Medication by Vivian Green Korner, Certified Dementia Practitione

Updated: Jan 14, 2019



As dementia progresses, individuals with this illness can resist taking medication. What can contribute to resistance or reluctance to taking medication can be caused by the individual’s confusion, lack of understanding, sleep problems, and/or restlessness. For some individuals, they hear what is being said i.e., “it’s time to take your medication” or here’s your medication” but can no longer comprehend and process what are the steps to be taken to “take medication”.

To be effective and successful here are some strategies:

  • Timing: Set up a routine time to administer medications and if possible connect it with something pleasant, such as a meal or snack. Caregivers should put aside ample time to administer medication since the processing speed of an individual with dementia is often slowed down. Try to administer medications when the person is most alert and calm.

  • Stimulating Surroundings: The individual with dementia often can not process multiple sources of stimulation. If possible administer medications in the same location (dining room table, bathroom) and eliminate distractions such as noise, or too much activity.

  • Attitude of Caregiver: Having to administer medications can often become a battlefront for caregivers. Again, caregivers need to give themselves enough time to focus to “get the job done”. Even though it is challenging find ways to make it cheerful. Speak with a friendly calm tone of voice, and convey a positive welcoming experience through your body language. Caregivers certainly can feel frustrated but if this is conveyed the individual with dementia can pick up on the negative feelings but don’t comprehend what is the problem. Again, with dementia there is a diminished ability to process and comprehend.

Caregivers you are not alone in dealing with this challenge.

In addition to the above mentioned suggestions, some medications can be given unnoticed to the individual when combined with food such as apple sauce or ice cream. Before you give this a try, consult with the doctor prescribing the medication.


Vivian Green Korner, MA, Certified Dementia Practitioner, is a dementia care specialist in private practice. She works with families who need guidance, direction and help with decisions that they need to make when caring for an individual with dementia. Vivian’s goal is to support families with practical advice, solutions to deal with the many challenges and help families to find the best match to programs, services and professionals.

Viviangreenkorner.com | 201.960.4277

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