Giving Medicines

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Useful tips to help your family member take their medicines correctly and regularly

Dementia may affect your family member’s memory, mood and behaviour. You may find that your family member may not want to take their medicines.

If your family member has been able to look after their own medicines without help, for many years:

  • they may not want to ask for your help.
  • they may get angry with you for trying to help them with their medicines.
  • they may know they are making mistakes with their medicines but try to hide these mistakes.
  • they may forget what some or all of their medicines are for.

Included here are some helpful tips from other people who have looked after someone with dementia. Remember that some ideas may work well some days and not others.

  • If appropriate, take your own medicines at the same time as your family member. When they see you taking your medicines they may take theirs.
  • Put their medicines out at the same time as their meals, for example their morning medicines with breakfast.
  • If they refuse to take their medicines, distract your family member by doing something else for a short time and then try to give the medicines again.
  • If your family member finds it difficult to take many medicines all together, try giving their medicines in two or more separate groups.
  • Keep to the same medicine times that they are used to. This is particularly important if your family member has moved to a new place to live or has come home after being in hospital.
  • If your family member doesn’t like the taste or colour of their medicines, or has trouble swallowing medicines, ask the doctor or pharmacist if the medicines can be crushed. Alternatively, ask the doctor or pharmacist if the medicine can be given in a different formula, such as a liquid or patch on the skin.

Please note: only certain medicines can be safely crushed, which is why it is always important to check with the doctor or pharmacist before crushing medicine.

Crushed medicines can be hidden in foods that your family member likes, such as porridge, yoghurt, or mashed vegetables. Don’t use sweet foods to hide the medicine in if your family member has diabetes.

To make this job easier you can buy a pill crusher. Talk to your pharmacy or local Independent Living Centre (see section 5 for contact details) about the best one to buy for your needs.

Pill Crusher
Pill Crusher
  • Regularly check with your doctor that your family member still needs to take all of their medicines.

Some of the ideas suggested in this section might make it a little easier for you to look after medicines for your family member. You will know what will work best as you know your family member better than anyone else.

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