Medication Management and Encouraging Seniors to Take Their Meds

As we grow older, odds are that we will face the need to take at least one and likely more medications. Indeed, you may already be in a position in which you are taking multiple medications on a daily or otherwise regular basis. You may be the adult child who has a senior parent who is taking multiple medications. No matter the vantage point – a senior taking medication or the adult child or a parent in that position – proper medication management is crucial.

There are many instances in which seniors are not on top of their medications because they understandably dislike taking them. The consequences of not adhering to medication requirements can have significant health consequences for an elder individual. With this in mind, there are some tactics an adult son or daughter of a senior can employ to encourage their aging parent to adhere to their medication requirements. These include:

  • Incentives
  • Verbal encouragement
  • Redirection

Addressing ways in which you can encourage a parent to take their medications as prescribed doesn’t mean that you should disrespect or infantilize your mother or father. When employing this trio of tactics, which will be discussed in greater detail in a moment, you must do so while respecting your parent and allowing them to maintain a sense of dignity.

Find Out What Is Motivating Your Parent to Avoid Medication

Before employing an incentive to encourage your parent to take his or her meds, you do need to spend a bit of time exploring why your mother or father may not be adhering to prescription requirements (or over-the-counter medication suggestions from a physician). Common reasons that a senior might be dodging taking medication as required include:

  • Not liking how the medication makes him or her feel
  • Pills are too hard to swallow
  • Know someone who took the same medicine and had a medical emergency
  • Feel better and think they no longer need medication
  • Cannot afford the medication

Armed with some semblance of an understanding of why your parent may not be taking medications as directed, you can open a dialogue with your mother or father. You can also involve your parent’s physician in the matter as well.

Incentives to Encourage Parents to Take Medications

Your parents likely incentivized you to take medicine when you were a child. With this note, we most certainly are not telling you to treat your parent like a child. (We previously pointed out that this type of disrespect must be avoided.) There are ways in which you can incentivize the medication-taking process for your mother or father without being disrespectful.

Perhaps there is some type of activity that your parent enjoys with you. You do not want to stop doing that activity until your parent complies with medication requirements. That is not a fair type of incentive. Rather, you could establish a goal for your parent to consistently take medications for a set period of time in exchange for doing the enjoyed activity more often.

There may be some types of foods that your parent particularly enjoys. Food can be an incentive to encourage an aging parent to take medications in a reliable manner. In the final analysis, there likely are a number of things your parent likes that can serve as reasonable and respectful incentives to encourage your parent to be consistent in taking his or her medications.

Verbal Encouragement to Encourage Parents to Take Medications

We already mentioned that it is important to open lines of communication with your parent about his or her medication and medication management issues. Another way that you can appropriately be helpful to your parent in regard to medication management is to provide suitable verbal encouragement.

When it comes to encouraging your parent verbally to take meds, the conversation begins with understanding why it is not happening in the first instance (which we discussed a moment ago). In communicating with your parent about medication management, you must stay as positive as possible. You don’t want to use threats. That most definitely is not verbal encouragement.

At the heart of verbally encouraging your parent to follow his or her medication schedule is empathizing with your mother or father. You can best verbally encourage your parent to take medications as required by understanding how he or she feels about the matter. If you aren’t really certain how your parent does feel, ask about it (as we suggested previously).

Redirection to Encourage Parents to Take Medications

Redirection is a tactic whereby you can encourage your mother or father to take medications by taking a negative situation and morphing it into a positive one for your parent. For example, if a stated reason why your parent is not complying with a med plan is that the pills are hard to follow, see if there is some other alternative dosage form available to them. You don’t want to take this issue on by yourself by taking a step like chopping a pill in half. Some pills have a time-released coating that is necessary but ends up defeated when a pill is sliced apart.

There are other ways in which redirection can be used as a means to encourage medication compliance. If a parent reports he or she doesn’t need the medication because he or she feels better, bring your parent’s doctor into the conversation. Your parent’s doctor can explain why even if your mother or father feels better at the moment, this is not going to last in the absence of the medication. Your parent’s position in regard to continuing to take medication can be redirected towards actually taking the prescription on a consistently timely basis.

In the end, there are ways in which you successfully get your parent back on track in regard to medication issues by encouraging your mother or father. Encouragement of the types discussed here may end up being only one of the different strategies designed to encourage your mother or father to be consistent in regard to taking medications.