Outside the Box  

Caring for a person with dementia often presents unique challenges and thinking outside the box can be a very helpful way to approach such situations. This new column is designed to provide caregivers with creative approaches to common issues.
As the disease progresses, a person with dementia may become more resistant to taking their medications. Perhaps the person no longer understands the need for their pills. Or perhaps the task of taking medications has become too complex. Or maybe the person has become more paranoid, as their memory and their ability to process reason and logic has eroded, and no longer trusts the person giving them the pills. Or maybe they just donít want to take their pills anymore! Whatever the reason, what is important is to ensure the person is getting their medication.

Remember not to argue or force the person to do something they donít want to do. Instead, simplify the situation. Limit distractions and unclutter the environment. Try sitting across from the person at the table, lay their pills in a row in front of them and lay Tic Tacsģ, M&Mísģ or another bite-sized candy in a row in front of you. Connect with the person through eye contact and convey a sense of trust and safety through positive facial expressions. Keep your tone and demeanor calm and relaxed. Model the act of taking a pill for the person by putting a candy in your mouth. Consider alternating their pills with candy, to give them a sweet treat in addition to their medication. If itís not working, stop. Take a break. Regroup and try again a little later.

Another option might be to crush pills and mix with something sweet. (Remember to check with your doctor if it is safe to crush that medication. Some are not meant to be crushed.) Applesauce may work, but it may not always be sweet enough to cut the bitterness of some medications. Consider jelly, honey or another sweet alternative. Again, if itís not working, take a break.
— Jed Levine
Executive Vice President,
Director of Programs & Services