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Dealing With Aging Parents : Medication Non Compliance

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senior woman taking medicine

Dealing with aging parents is a balancing act. You do not want to appear as “parenting” your parent. I feel many times as if I am walking a tight rope.

Last week, I took MIL to her doctor for a checkup while my husband took his dad for their weekly grocery-shopping trip. She and I took advantage of the opportunity to talk without FIL hearing, and covered a number of topics.

One of them was FIL’s non-compliance with medication. We’re currently 0 for 2 on Alzheimer’s medications. The first one he quit taking after 3 or 4 days because of side effects. The question is whether those side effects were from the medication or from the bacterial infection in his stomach that he’d been fighting all summer. He was finally given two very strong antibiotics for the infection, but had to quit taking them because they were too big for him to swallow. Consultation with his doctor gave us approval to crush them – even the capsule that said DO NOT CRUSH on the instructions – so he resumed them and his tummy is fine now. But he did not resume the Alzheimer’s medication.

 

So Dr. Neurologist put him on another one. He said this was usually only prescribed AFTER the patient is used to the first one, because it does upset the stomach, and the first medication tends to buffer that. He said that if FIL has an upset stomach, to take them anyway, and take omeprazole to help his stomach. Nope. Not happening. FIL quit them after 3 or 4 days, told MIL that’s what the doctor said to do if they bothered him.

 

They did not think to let us know about this until I asked last week. So here I am thinking he’s on medication – and he’s not. Next step is to try to sneak the pills into him by crushing them up with his other medications without telling him. See if he reacts.

 

Because honestly, I think he’s not going to take ANYTHING that Dr. Neuro prescribes. He’s scared, angry and resentful, and he’s directing all of those feelings toward Dr. Neuro, who is the “guilty” party who told him he has Alzheimer’s. He doesn’t want to believe it, admit it or accept it.

 

Which I guess is “normal” – but which does not make things easier.

 

He’s to go back to Dr. Neuro next week; we’re halfway expecting him to refuse to go. I have a plan in mind, if I can get the doctors to go along with it. If he refuses to see Dr. Neuro, I’m going to see if his PCP will take over the Alzheimer’s care, and consult with the neurologist on his treatment.

 

Sadly, I’m not actually sure the meds will really help much even if we can get them into him. He tries now to put on a good front when we’re there, but cannot sustain that for long, and relapses into silence. His mental deterioration is noticeable each week – not extreme, but we can tell. He’s so different from the strong, confident man who used to wander all the national parks with her, who went “heli-hiking” on a glacier in Canada, who took photos of all the family vacations….

 

This mountain is going to be so hard for my husband and MIL to climb. All I can do is help when and where I can, and try to be their safety net.

Meet Judy Morton

Medication Safety and the Aging Parent

Managing Medications Do You Need Help?

Family Dynamics and Caregiving