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Getting mom to take her meds-help!
Posted: Monday, March 25, 2019 2:06 PM
Joined: 3/25/2019
Posts: 18

Hi all.  Just joined. My mom's story is in my profile.  My elderly dad is her primary caretaker and he has his own set of health issues but is mentally sound.  She dug her heels in when we suggested letting my dad, since I am 6 hours away, manage her meds.  We have learned the hard way that trying to offer mom different options on how to manage her meds just made her defiant and confused.  Her mental decline is seen by my dad and I to be pretty rapid but I don't have anyone I know personally to compare her to.  We first noticed symptoms a year and a half ago and we now put her between stage 4 and 5.  Anyway, we decided to back off and just ask her if she took her meds.  She said yes but I told him to count them when she was out for a walk and to his shock he discovered she hadn't taken any Aricept in the 5 days that her dose was raised from 5 to 10 mg.  As far as the memantine I don't know if he even counted it as he is very overwhelmed by this as well.  I am looking for ways to get these meds into her, whether she knows or not, but of course we don't want an overdose.  So I need help on HOW to take these away from her, as we aren't even sure she remembers them or is doing it to be defiant, and once taken away, how to get her to take them.  She has a pill box for all kinds of supplements but I feel like, if he slips them in her daily dose, she will know what they are and be pissed we are somehow lying to her or she wont know what they are and will chunk them in the trash.  My mom and dad have very different sleep schedules, which is also an issue with watching to make sure she takes them, etc.  I was there last week and she was adamant about not taking her metamine until she finished her breakfast but neither one of us was standing right there to see if she really took it, like she told me she did.  I'm sorry for rambling but I really need some help, here.  Thank you in advance.
Posted: Monday, March 25, 2019 4:33 PM
Joined: 6/20/2016
Posts: 1943

For as much trouble and distress and the little benefit either or both of those medications will give her, don't force them on her.

Nothing is going to slow down the progress of the disease.  That is a fact.  The benefit of those medications is questionable at best.
Eric L
Posted: Monday, March 25, 2019 7:26 PM
Joined: 12/5/2014
Posts: 1078

Just to add my .02

The only time my MILs medication was truly managed is when we took it over completely. We had many, many missed doses of medication when she was trying to manage it herself (with little reminders here and there). It wasn't until we put her pill box in a place that was generally out of sight and gave her meds each morning and night that we were really able to control everything.

I think one of the benefits of doing this earlier rather than later would be that your mother would be more accepting of someone handling her medications later in the disease. This is especially important if she has to take a mood altering med. As Day2Nite stated, the efficacy of the dementia meds is really unknown for the most part. However, mood altering meds are very necessary.
Posted: Monday, March 25, 2019 8:10 PM
Joined: 9/5/2017
Posts: 321

I've been handling my DH's meds for 2 1/2 years.  He is unable to manage taking them on his own.
Posted: Monday, March 25, 2019 11:39 PM
Joined: 3/25/2019
Posts: 3

I had the same problem with my mom  and she was very aggressive about her meds. First I bought a pill box that holds her medicine for the week and let her get used to it. I then started setting up her meds while she was in the living room sleep or watching tv. Because I knew she didn't take her meds I would ask her. Sometimes she would say thanks for reminding me and sometimes she would've she took it already. I never get into a power stuggle with her. I waited for her to forget in ten to fifteen minutes later and ask her again. I then stopped asking and just brought her the pill box section for the day with her breakfast or dinner with her favorite drink (root beer) and a glass of water. She took meds twice a day. She liked getting catered to after a while especially on the days her energy was low. She got used to me handling her meds that she stopped thinking about them. I pretty much stopped asking her about certain things and just did them while she wasn't paying attention. Even with clothes. She would either take the credit for doing or thank me because she knew I did it. I've learned the hard way that patience and strategy is helpful.
Posted: Monday, March 25, 2019 11:42 PM
Joined: 3/25/2019
Posts: 3

I keep her pill box in a place she can remember and the pill bottles in another place so that she won't bother them.
Iris L.
Posted: Tuesday, March 26, 2019 12:46 AM
Joined: 12/15/2011
Posts: 16092

Your mom has anosognosia.  Meaning, she is unaware of the extent of her impairments.  Learn work-arounds from the members here.

Iris L.

Posted: Tuesday, March 26, 2019 9:27 AM
Joined: 9/18/2018
Posts: 42

The day I caught my mom almost taking a second dose of her meds (3 blood pressure and one thyroid) I took them away from her. By the next day she was freaking out because "Where are my meds?!?" My solution was to take her pill bottles and replace the meds inside each of them with look-alikes of mints, smarties and tic tacs. I now manage a weekly pillbox hidden away in my room and fill a small pill box with her meds for the day. These are slipped into a dish each morning and evening. The dish might sit around til noon some days, but she does eventually take them. And if she happens to take the look-alikes when shes up during the night or early morning, I just tell her the pills in the dish are her noon pills. By evening she has forgotten what she has taken and the evening pill goes down with dinner.

When I arrived at her house over a month ago I found 10 bottles of pills that had not been taken. ExpressScripts does a good job of refilling her meds, but they were starting to pile up because she was forgetting to take them or simply not take them because "I don't need those pills." The drug takeback box got a large donation within the first week of my moving in.


Mimi S.
Posted: Tuesday, March 26, 2019 9:53 AM
Joined: 11/29/2011
Posts: 7036

Welcome to our world, Eli. I'm so glad you found us.

There was such a diagnosis as Mild Cognitive Impairment. I do believe the name has changed. However, when you are speaking of your mom being in stage 4 or 5, she has progressed to dementia. Is she under the care of a neurologist who specializes in dementia?

Aricept is not designed to cure but to slow down the progression of the disease. Do check with the pharmacist to see if this and her other med can be crushed and put in apple sauce or other food.  She is, from what you write, past the point where she should be managing her own meds.

I would suggest, from your library, getting copy of any book by Naomi Feil with the word Validation in the title. It's not an easy read and you will need to train your dad in it's use. What one can read on-line is nt sufficient to implement her program.


I would also suggest getting her involved in the life style of Best practices. it likewise may slow down the progression of the disease.
1. Take meds as directed.


2. Vigorous, as possible, physical activity. The goal id to get the heart pumping at a faster than normal rate for a bit. Research has shown that such builds new brain tirrue.
3. Varied cognitive activity. The goal is to stimulate, not frustrate.


Medfiterraneandiet. (Check on computer). No smoking and limited alcohol.


5. Maintain or increase socialization. We need dAily face to face contact with others but normally do not sdo well in crowds or noise.


Something to think about if finances permit. I currently reside in an asisted Living facility which has many couples as residents. If your dad also has health issues, this might be worth exploring.


It is so hard caregiving from a distance.
Posted: Tuesday, March 26, 2019 2:23 PM
Joined: 7/12/2017
Posts: 1302

What are the meds?  Are they ALL necessary?  My mom was on about ten, the last 8 were for symptoms from the first two!  She takes none know and besides a slight elevated blood pressure no other issues.  Her meds were causing so many issues!  Look at them closely, look at the side affects, look to see if they are all really needed.  For example, they gave my mom some sort of allergy med, and the allergy was caused by her blood pressure meds, she was given a cream for a rash, which was caused by another med, so do some research to see if all the meds are reallllly needed, doctors just prescribe a med and we go okay here when if we look wholistically we may be able to decrease the pills, and thus some of the stress drama and worry
Posted: Saturday, March 30, 2019 11:11 AM
Joined: 3/25/2019
Posts: 18

Thank you. What happened when u took her pill box away, though? My mom would definitely notice and be pissed about that. I spoke to her last night and she told me she cancelled her appt where she was going to be given a 4.5 hour long intensive question answer session. I asked her why and she said she didn’t need to. I asked what happens if she forgets about me? She said she won’t because she doesn’t forget important stuff. 3 minutes later she asked me how my sick friend was doing. He died 3 weeks ago. That’s pretty important. I feel like she’s between stages 4 and 5. Also, what kind of mood altering drugs r u talking about?
Posted: Saturday, March 30, 2019 11:12 AM
Joined: 3/25/2019
Posts: 18

The question is how u got that person to let u take over control?
Posted: Saturday, March 30, 2019 11:14 AM
Joined: 3/25/2019
Posts: 18

Thank you!
Posted: Saturday, March 30, 2019 11:29 AM
Joined: 3/25/2019
Posts: 18

Thank you. This is so surreal because as I sit there talking to her, she looks like mom but I don’t know when she’s aware and when she isn’t. As I said, i  6 hours away and my dad doesn’t have the mobility to prepare her meals or slip them into a dish with any regularity.  She had always cooked for him so I’m sure she would be suspicious of that  I guess we r both terrified of her thinking we are conspiring against her.  I am going to print this three and send everything to him, however.  


Posted: Saturday, March 30, 2019 11:35 AM
Joined: 3/25/2019
Posts: 18

I will go to a bookstore tonight and buy one of these books and send to my dad. Why do u say it isn’t an easy read? Do u mean emotionally? What if my dad puts his foot down and takes charge of her meds and she refuses to take any of them in retaliation?  As far as the Best practices, she still plays bunco in her neighborhood, goes to exercise 2x a week, goes to the library and grocery store. I  waiting for the call that she got lost.
Posted: Saturday, March 30, 2019 11:37 AM
Joined: 3/25/2019
Posts: 18

Aricept, memantine and blood pressure
Posted: Saturday, March 30, 2019 12:11 PM
Joined: 11/13/2018
Posts: 90

About the same problems with DW (stage 5-6) and her meds. Have cut back a bunch of her meds after speaking with PCP.

 One thing that I found that works for us is having me setting up a weekly pill box and having me also give them out. She was having trouble getting  pills down and would hold them in her mouth and spit some out later when I was not looking. Solved that problem by crushing them up into powder and putting them into pudding, yogurt, etc. Then the only thing I had to do was making sure she ate the stuff. The only caution is not to crush the extended release medication.

There is no way she could figure out setting up the pill box, or taking them. That stopped over a year ago.

Posted: Sunday, March 31, 2019 4:56 PM
Joined: 12/15/2011
Posts: 3921

Aricept and Mematine both come in transdermal patch form.  Ask the doctors for that.  Have dad put the patches on her back where she can't reach.  Tell her that the doctor didn't like the other medicine he gave her and changed the prescription and it has to go on her back.  She can't reach the right spot, so dad has to do it.  That leaves only her BP medicine for your dad to have to count and ride herd on.  Much simpler.
Eric L
Posted: Sunday, March 31, 2019 5:20 PM
Joined: 12/5/2014
Posts: 1078


My MIL takes risperidone for agitation and anxiety. We can also give her ativan on as needed basis for agitation issues. There are several other drugs that are used for these and other dementia related issues. Your mother may never have to take them, but it seems that at some point during this process, many PWDs will have to take something.

You probably won't be able to convince her that someone else will need to "take over" the medicine. Even if you were able to right after you read this, it is quite likely that she would forget it by the morning. After a while, you learn that it just isn't worth your time or energy to try and rationally or logically have a conversation about issues like this.

She is probably going to get angry with you and your father many, many times during her journey with dementia. I've been cussed out for making my MIL a sandwich for lunch. She told my wife she was a horrible mother because we moved our bedroom closer to hers. It's a crappy part of the process.

Posted: Tuesday, April 2, 2019 11:26 AM
Joined: 9/11/2017
Posts: 19

Our mother was diagnosed about 2 years ago. Luckily your pharmacy provides a service that we call bubble packs. they put all mom's meds in these bubble packs for the month, the correct dosage at the correct time, they even include her OTC allergy pill and vitamin. They do this monthly and it only cost about $2.00 for each pack, but it is a life saver in the sense that mom still has control over her meds. My sister and I date each day on each pack and mom will look at the pack, see the date and look up at the special wall clock we bought her that shows the time, day of the week, date and whether it is morning, afternoon or night. For the most part, this has worked out great for us.

Welcome to the forum, this is a place with a wealth of knowledge and support.
Posted: Tuesday, April 2, 2019 12:44 PM
Joined: 3/25/2019
Posts: 18

Thank you!  This sounds like something that might work.  Is that one patch that contains both meds?  Is this the same as Excelon patch? She told dad last night that the way we came at her confused her and made her even less want to take her meds, which really makes no sense.  I havent talked to my dad without her on the phone until just now, while she is out to lunch with friends.  He is so depressed already.  He said walmart called and reminded her she had scripts waiting for pick up and she told him that couldn't be right because she wasn't getting low on hers, meaning she's not taking them.  I asked him to count them and he says he doesn't know where they are.  I don't know if that means she is hiding them but he is not able to bend low or look for them, to any extent.  I read him several of the replies to this thread and he said she wont go for any of them, gets hostile and emotional.  I dont' know what the hell to do.  OMG.
Posted: Tuesday, April 2, 2019 2:05 PM
Joined: 3/25/2019
Posts: 18

my pharmacist says neither of those meds come in patch form?


Posted: Tuesday, April 2, 2019 2:07 PM
Joined: 3/25/2019
Posts: 18

TY! I think these packs may help! Where did you get the clock, please?
Posted: Tuesday, April 2, 2019 3:21 PM
Joined: 2/9/2019
Posts: 114

Hi, Eli,

I know this must be hard for you; it's a  heartbreaking disease!  I'm glad you found your way to this site.  It's been very helpful for me too.

A lot of what you describe is exactly what we have been struggling with concerning my mom too.  She is naturally suspicious and fearful, and this disease has increased her tendencies.  If I've learned anything though, is that I must enter her world and not expect her to enter mine.  The world of "reality" is no longer hers, and to make her feel comfortable and safe is to understand where she is coming from.  Caring for our LOs is a true exercise in humility and patience.

You mentioned that it doesn't make sense to you that your mom was confused regarding taking her medication and that the way you approached her made her even more resistant to taking them.  I'm sure you had nothing but the best of intentions.  It is obvious that you care very much.  It's true, her reactions don't make sense to you or to anyone who has the ability to reason it out, but, sadly, your mom does not have the ability to reason as she used to.  Her reaction and resistance DOES make sense to her.

There is no simple solution to this, but I have found great power in the "simple" technique of communication.  Your mom will react positively to feelings of trust in you and your dad and a sense of personal empowerment; you will have to build and foster these feelings.  Try looking at some Teepa Snow videos on communication techniques (  Also, I found this great article online:

It will be a long, hard journey, Eli, with lots of trial and error.  Keep us posted.  My thoughts are with you.




Posted: Tuesday, April 2, 2019 3:55 PM
Joined: 9/11/2017
Posts: 19

I got mom's on It's called a Day Clock for about $50.00. It has really helped in that part of mom's care.
Posted: Thursday, May 2, 2019 12:37 PM
Joined: 3/25/2019
Posts: 18

Thank you
Posted: Thursday, May 2, 2019 12:38 PM
Joined: 3/25/2019
Posts: 18

Posted: Thursday, May 2, 2019 4:35 PM
Joined: 4/19/2018
Posts: 50

When my mom started to forget to take her meds I just took over like everything else with every meal I set her meds for that time and keep telling her don't forget your pills do it with out a fuss everything has to be very casual with her and in her oun time
Posted: Friday, May 3, 2019 5:52 AM
Joined: 3/6/2017
Posts: 1642

eli47 wrote:
Thank you. What happened when u took her pill box away, though? 

Compliance with medication improved. I took away dad's because of dementia and mom's because of vision issues. As dad progressed, we were able to wean him off of some meds (his formerly high BP dropped as the disease progressed) and added other psychoactive medications to improve his mood and anxiety. Mom gets pills boxes, but she's OK cognitively-she just can't read the prescription bottles or visualize the difference between 3 small off-white pills she takes. 

My mom would definitely notice and be pissed about that. 

That's unfortunate. Dad was livid, too and mom still chafes at me doing her meds but I've caught her being uncompliant. Safety first. I don't know what you family dynamic is, but I had a very controlling and in-charge PWD. I tried tentatively to help and was rebuffed by the pair of them. It wasn't until I came in with a more "I'm in charge now" attitude that they relaxed and became more compliant. YMMV. 

Perhaps you could blame it on the doctor. Perhaps pills could magically appear with meals. Perhaps you could hide them in treats. 

I spoke to her last night and she told me she cancelled her appt where she was going to be given a 4.5 hour long intensive question answer session. I asked her why and she said she didn’t need to. 

Anosogonosia. It would be really helpful to get this done as it will give you a clearer snapshot of where she is in terms of  IADLs like money management or driving. You may have to sell the appointment as routinely required by Medicare.

I asked what happens if she forgets about me? She said she won’t because she doesn’t forget important stuff. 3 minutes later she asked me how my sick friend was doing. He died 3 weeks ago. That’s pretty important. 

It's probably best not to discuss your mom's dementia with her or what's down the road. We never used the A or the D words. We generally referred to dad's difficulties as some kind of temporary memory glitch and his appointments as "doing everything we can to get you the best care". 

I feel like she’s between stages 4 and 5. Also, what kind of mood altering drugs r u talking about?

Dad took an SSRI and a lower dose of an antipsychotic. I suspect he had underlying mental health issues as well as mixed dementia. I would encourage you to consult a geriatric psychiatrist for this kind of medication. 

Posted: Friday, May 3, 2019 8:41 AM
Joined: 6/19/2018
Posts: 29

If you are in trouble for calling the pharmacy, you have lots of company. When my mom was ill I pretended to be my mom to talk to Medicare. So I'm probably in more trouble (federal) than you (local pharmacy).

After my experience with my mom I have been hyper focused on getting access to all of my husband's medical care. He has a medical power of attorney naming me. Medicare has a form that can be filled out to authorize someone else to call on your behalf. Done. Supplemental insurance has a similar form. Done. Prescription insurance form. Done. Dental insurance form. Done.

Most times when I call they just talk to me when I say I'm his wife. On the odd time when I'm told they can't talk to me, I ask they check the file for the form, and they have always then talked to me. 

I'd have 'mom' (aka you) call for the forms to be mailed to her. Have her sign them and mail them in. 

But, while that will allow everyone to talk to you, it may not solve your problem completely. I moved something in my mom's drawer one day and unearthed a cache of untaken medication. 




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