difficulty with Mum taking medication

For issues specific to caring for someone with dementia.
Hello. I've just joined CarersUK this morning in the hope of getting more help. Mum has heart failure, kidney problems and likely dementia (undiagnosed as yet), which seems to become much worse when she is anxious. She believes that her medication poisons her. We have told her that if she doesn't take her medication she will become ill and have to go back to hospital. Nothing we say seems to work and she thinks I am a fool to trust the home nursing team and the doctors as they are all 'fakes'. Indeed, she can be quite rude to the weekly nurses that visit and won't always let them carry out their checks, or accept medicine from them. If she doesn't take her tablets she is at high risk of a stroke at worse or certainly returning back to hospital, which she hates. She is crafty with the medication, either holding it under her tongue, while swallowing the water, then spitting them out later into a tissue. Liquid versions don't work either.

Is this a common problem with mental illness/dementia. Has anyone else experienced this and found anything that has helped. Mum still has some quality of life at home, especially with this lovely weather as she enjoys sitting in the garden and occasionally can manage the odd twenty minutes of gardening still. We don't feel that she needs to go into a home yet.

Any help or just reassurance that this problem is common would be useful.

With thanks

Elizabeth
Hello Elizabeth. Welcome to the forum.
Sadly, it is a common problem regarding medication.
My husband is in a nursing home because of strokes and vascular dementia. When in the main hospital and then an assessment unit, he truly believed staff were trying to poison him. Even with the food. It was magnified in his mind because he had urinary tract infections. Sometimes, in the nursing home, I hear other residents refusing to take medication. The staff check for uti problems. Maybe ask for a test?
I do sympathise, it's a very difficult situation. Fortunately, for want of a better word, my lovely husband takes his medication now, sadly in his decline.
Hi Elizabeth,

Welcome to the Forum. I hope you find it useful.

Yes, sadly a common problem but I guess that doesn't help you much.

My mum hid tablets under pillows, wrapped them in tissues or dropped them on the floor for the cat to find them :o . When she was in hospital, I found quite a collection under her pillow! She may have had dementia but she had a degree in being crafty. I don't have any amazing solutions. I would check with the nurse or GP that the tablets can be crushed. If so, I found a cheap pill crusher from the chemists meant I could hide tablets in food. Shepherds pie was good for that! Not morally correct, I guess, but needs must ...

Good luck, Anne
Thank you both for taking the time to reply. It helps knowing others have gone through this. I hadn't thought to try crushing the tablets into food. I might well give this a try.
Yes, put them in her food.

With my husband, he found taking pills physically difficult, so the district nurse showed me an old trick (nurses know LOADS of tricks about meds!!!!).

Take the pill, crush it between two teaspoons (as in 'spooning' them), and then mix it into something easy to swallow like icecream (anything your mum likes), and then she should (I hope) scoff them down.

Surely, if worst comes to worst, the meds could be injected?????
Please check with Mum's GP first - some medication must be swallowed whole and should not be crushed; some others must be taken on an empty stomach or at a specified period of time after food.
Hi,

I think your mum needs a mental health assessment, she seems quite paranoid. You can organise this through her GP. Your mum probably won't cooperate, so explain this to GP and give as much info as you can about her thinking patterns and behaviours.
The other thing to consider is a possible delirium due to urine infection, but again, this is best assessed by her GP.
Susie - good point!

Re refusing to take meds. My MIL with now-advanced dementia refuses to take her pills 'voluntarily' and always pushes away physically with her hands any attempt by a nurse to get her to take them. Having dementia, she sees no reason for them...

It's down on her notes with a particular phrase that I can't remember, but I heard the nurse tell the CHC assessor it when she asked that question.

So your mum's attitude could, indeed, be down to dementia.

Or, yes, some form of paranoia-like Mental illness.

May I, finally, say something that is definitely controversial and you may also find emotionally painful, so please discard if you do - but it is this.

Your mum's health is not going to improve as she ages, indeed, the reverse. If dementia is setting in this is a dreadful condition (I've seen my vigorous, alert, self-reliant, independent, live-alone-perfectly-well MIL turn into what is almost a 'zombie' in three years), and my sad, sad, sad point is that IF the medication is 'preserving' her life, that in fact it might be more of a kindness NOT to medicate....to let nature take its course instead, more swiftly than would be the case with the medication.

I know this can be a painful and upsetting thought, but really, when old age brings a high degree of infirmity, illness, disability and dementia, a 'swifter exit' can be a mercy compared with what can only, sadly ,be a grim, grim alternative. At this stage, there really is not 'upside' alas.....it's dreadful to contemplate, but there it is.