Ways to Influence Seniors into Taking Their Medication

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Anyone who has ever taken care of a senior at some point in their life knows that seniors can get hesitant when it comes to taking medications. While their recalcitrance is not entirely their fault, there are ways you can convince them.

Mostly, their resolve against medication stems from their belief that they are better off without the medications. The immune system can get overtaxed if we let it fight off all the ailments on its own.

Other seniors are not so adamant – but skeptical. Their suspicions range from paranoia – what is that you’re giving me, poison? — to forgetfulness – didn’t I take my medicine already?

Whatever the case might be, medication is important. But if your senior is showing reluctance in taking medication, then you need to adopt a cooler, calmer approach with them.

Kindness, calmness, and being gentle can go a long way toward positively influencing other people’s behavior. There is no arguing that these soft skills are absolute must-have when it comes to dealing with seniors.

In senior care homes, nurses are supposed to keep tabs on the residents’ medication schedules. These nurses are experts in differentiating between the different kinds of medications and possess knowledge that lets them even manage doses.

The work at a senior home is not easy and the shifts are busy. Pursuing a doctor degree in nursing can seem like a distant dream. But not anymore. You can pursue an online DNP from the comfort of your own home once your shift ends.

Here are some ways you can incorporate for influencing seniors into taking their medication:

Critical Medicines Are Important

Where caregiving is concerned, make sure you are picking your battles wisely. You should avoid getting into arguments with the seniors about taking the vitamins and supplements, which the doctor might not have recommended them.

While you are not in the wrong, and these vitamins and supplements are in no way harmful — if anything, they are beneficial — you need to put your energy into convincing them to take doctor-prescribed medicine first, the ones they have to take.

Critical medicines, anything their doctor has prescribed, are essential. Give them priority over all non-essential supplements that are good to have but not important.

Seniors Take Their Doctors More Seriously

Sometimes a senior person may not comply with instructions. They might not take your word seriously. No matter how hard you try to explain them the seriousness of not taking medication, they will simply refuse to take your warnings into account.

You will need to tell their doctor about it. Hearing it from the doctor might influence their decision. Trained medical professionals are also able to tell the seniors about the consequences of not following through with instructions.

Some adults respond better to authority figures than to their family — even if they are in complete control of their faculties.

Check For Any Unpleasant Side Effects

In some cases, the senior might have had a bad experience with one or a few of the medications. This could be due to unchecked, unpleasant side effects like feeling ill, nauseous, dizzy. An upset stomach is a common side-effect associated with medication seniors take.

Side effects and contraindications are usually mentioned on the back of the medicine’s packaging. Be sure to read it thoroughly. For a better overall outcome, make sure to jot down whatever your senior is experiencing, so that you can convince your doctor that the medication does have side effects for the senior.

After checking the severity of the side effects, they might choose to assign your senior some other medication or lower the dosage.

Most medications have side effects. The goal is to prescribe medications that will have fewer side effects for the senior.

Changing Flavors or Formulas Helps

Most medication taste terrible. Some pills are larger, making them hard to swallow in one go. You cannot blame your senior for refusing to take them.

Ask for alternative prescriptions if swallowing larger pills is hard for your senior. Also, check with your doctor if it is possible to change the flavor or format of the formula-based medication without compromising its medicinal value.

A crushed pill, for example, can be swallowed easily. Similarly, some medicines have liquid (suspension) and solid (pill) alternatives. Most seniors prefer liquid medicine, and you can talk to the doctor about exploring those alternatives.

Addressing Emotions, Not Words, Is the Way Forward

With seniors, we need to be as gentle as we are with kids. There often is an underlying fear or some apprehension behind their not taking medication. You might grow tired of hearing No from them.  There will come the point when you will lose your temper; we advise that you keep it in check. Instead of responding to their Nos, ask them questions and try to uncover what fuels their refusal.

The best way to counter their refusal is to learn why they are refusing in the first place. Try understanding their emotions. You will end up with a solution by the end of this inquiry. The key here is to speak kindly and initiate a gentle conversation.

Be Positive in Your Outlook

Convincing seniors to take their medicine is a challenge. You might want to give up convincing them altogether, pessimistic about the progress. Seniors with dementia or alzheimer’s can be moody and get cranky if you insist on taking medication too often. Their forgetfulness is no help as well. This means, they will be constantly missing their medications if they aren’t supervised by a nurse.

You should have a cheery and positive outlook on life when interacting with seniors. It’s not about what you tell them, but about how you make them feel.


Seniors are notoriously hard to influence into taking medication. You should always let them know that the doctor-prescribed medications take priority over supplements. Ask their doctor to have a chat with them about missing medications and help them realize that their punctuality in this regard is important for their health. That said, you should keep an eye out for any unpleasant side effects from the medication and consult the doctor right away if the symptoms persist. If a medication tastes unpleasant, let your doctor know and get the prescription changed. Always embody an optimistic and cheery attitude in the presence of your seniors.


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