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What to do if your loved one refuses their medication

Learn what to do when your loved one refuses to take their medication


We all know how important medication is for our loved ones. So when they refuse to take their meds, it can be upsetting. 


If this occurs, know that you are not in a unique situation. The refusal of medication is common and can be overcome. The most important thing to do in the first instance is to ask the person who prescribed it - likely your loved one’s doctor - about the impact on their health and wellbeing of not taking it. Some medication isn’t vital. So, refusal to take it may not be a problem. 


However, if the medication is vital, there are some simple steps you can take to encourage your loved one to change their mind. 


The best way to approach this situation is to talk openly and honestly with your loved one about why they don’t want to take their medication. It’s possible that their attitude can be changed. For example, if it’s a tablet, a doctor may offer an oral solution. If your loved one doesn’t like the taste, a doctor may provide a new brand or flavour. If your loved one suffers side effects, such as nausea or an upset stomach, a doctor may be able to prescribe something different. 


It’s important to seek a change that can provide a solution, but this change can only be found if you understand what the problem is. So talk to your loved one and ask them what’s wrong. 


However, there is a possibility that your loved one’s medication can’t be changed and they still refuse to take it. In this instance, for their health and wellbeing it may be necessary to administer the medication by hiding it in food or drink. However, only undertake this course of action with written consent from a doctor. 


It is distressing to see your loved one refuse help. But remember, it’s not uncommon and it is not your fault. So don’t be daunted. You can fix it.


With love and care,

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