Mum's Medication - Not Being Taken


Registered User
Jan 15, 2008
Hi All,

May I ask for some advice?

Mum was diagnosed with VAD about two years ago and has recently experienced a significant decline in her mental and physical health. Now I think I know why:

This morning Mum went on a sort of social outing to some gardens in our local area (with her neighbour) and probably against my conscience, I went round to "sort some stuff out". I took away two bags of rotting food and rescued a bill or two. Fair enough, or not - depending on your point of view. I know this is wrong but if I didn't do it, flies and goodness knows what would descend.

Anyhooooo...the main issue. Mum takes about 12 different tablets which have been prescribed in a blister pack (brilliant invention). She swears blind that she takes them every day without fail. She's not telling the truth.

Today I discover TWO pristine blister packs (the first delivered on June 6th, and one a week after). Not a single tablet has been taken. Not one. These tablets keep my Mum alive - a thyroxin tablet, betablockers to keep her heart rate stable, a controlled dose of aspirin to prevent a stroke (she refuses warfarin), an anti-depressant, etc etc.

Even last night she was telling me that she cuts the dose in half as it's such a pain in the proverbial to take so many pills in the morning. Is she lying, or is she just going through some sort of fantasy?

I drove over to the pharmacist to let him know of my concerns - anxiety was etched all over my face. I don't want her to die simply from not taking the medication that keeps her alive - I'm sorry, but her life is worth more than that, surely. He was great. He calmed me down and has promised to visit her next week for "a chat" about the medication and its importance.

What do I do? Should I tell her that I know that she's not been taking her drugs (I don't need to tell her that I've seen them "in secret"), should I speak to her GP (he knows what's going on), should I share it with my sisters and brother or should I just simply let her get ill and die - indeed, is she doing this on purpose? My feeling is that she is deliberately not taking her tablets. She's had enough of life.

It's hideous.

What do you think, good folks in here?



Registered User
Jun 27, 2006
Dear Susan

I don't have any advice really about how to approach your mother about this. I have to say I doubt the intervention of the pharmacist will have any effect - either she's forgetting to take them, in which case the pharmacist's advice will seem pointless to her (if she remembers it), or she's choosing not to take them (so the advice will fall on deaf ears).

To be honest, I suspect that she intends to take them, maybe believes she has taken them, but simply does not take them. While I appreciate that no one can be legally forced to take medication, the problem with not taking it is not that the result might be a massive life ending event but that what will actually happen is something less major but which leaves her considerably less able than she is now.

I say this because this was my personal experience. My mother had a stroke (unknown to anyone, even though I took her to her GP), evidenced by poor short term memory. Several years later she had 2 more in rapid succession (which was when we found out about the previous one). If I had realised the poor memory was indicative of something I would have put in place measures to ensure that she took her meds, but no one indicated that might be a problem. She might have has the strokes if she had been taking the meds, she might not, but I feel she was very badly served by her GP.

The whole point of this long story - I would move heaven and earth to ensure that she takes her meds at the proper time, even if that means "ratting" her out.


Registered User
Jan 15, 2008
Thanks, Jennifer

I think you're right. I've briefly mentioned this issue to my twin sister and we will be having a long chat about it tonight. Mum is talking about her holiday with us and how much she is looking forward to it, so I think that it's the dementia that's the issue here, rather than no longer wishing to live. However, I'm not inside Mum's head and given that her brain is no longer working properly, I don't really know.

Your story is very sad and I'm sorry to hear what happened in your case. Mum's GP is excellent and she adores him (as do I, but in a different way...another long story, I'm just SO ANNOYED he's married!) and she will listen to him.

I reckon I will have to get him involved. We don't want to lose her just yet.


Canadian Joanne

Volunteer Moderator
Apr 8, 2005
Toronto, Canada
I think it's simply your mother is forgetting. My MIL also had VAD and at one point decided to cut her meds in half because "it was too many pills to take at once". Once we realized that, my SIL told her if she didn't take the pills as she was supposed to, they would put her in a home to make sure she did. This was when my MIL was cognizant enough to know the meds she had to take every day. And it worked.

It sounds like your mother is just forgetting. In your shoes, I would set up something where someone goes in to "help" your mother take the meds. She may adore her GP, but I think the dementia is overriding her good intentions.

took away two bags of rotting food and rescued a bill or two. Fair enough, or not - depending on your point of view. I know this is wrong but if I didn't do it, flies and goodness knows what would descend.
It is NOT wrong to remove rotting food and sort bills and other things out. It is a blessing for your mother that she has a daughter that loves her and wants to take care of her.

Good luck and keep us informed.


Registered User
Jun 13, 2008
We were concerned mum( in law) was forgetting to take her medication so we arranged through Social Care for someone to go in morning and evening when mum should take her tablets. They only go in for 30 mins each time but prompt mum to get breakfast or tea( she kept forgetting to make meals and would only make them when ravenously hungry and then only get a cup of soup as it was quick and filled her up fast) and prompt her to take her meds which we put out in a weekly box. Since the introduction of this things have been a lot better and the care company call us if they have any concerns. I live 20 miles away and try to get in at least twice a week- my fiance and I then visit at the weekend when he gets back from working away. Hope this helps??

Julie & Ian
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Registered User
Apr 16, 2008
Devon, England
Hi SusanB
I too think it's more like your mum is simply forgetting to take her meds or thinks she has when she hasn't. I've had a similar problem with my mum, and she only has 1 to take.

Last time I went up to mum's (I only see her every 4-6 wks cos of distance/work/family) I phoned her on my way up to say I'd be a bit late so if she wanted to eat before I got there she should go ahead. She said she'd had a 'late breakfast' and wasn't hungary. The rest of the conversation went something like.

Me: "Have you had your pill then?"
Mum: "No"
Me: "OK, we'll have something to eat when I get there and you can have it then"
Mum: "Yes. That's a good idea"
2 hours later I get to mum's
Me: "Are you going to have one of these ready meals now?"
Mum: "No, I'm not that hungary"
Me: "Well you need to eat something to have your pill with. Will you have the pudding when I have mine and you can have it then" (mum loves puddings)
Mum: "OK"
Pudding time
Me: "I'll get the puddings now and you can have your tablet"
Mum: "I don't want the pudding and I've already had my tablet. I'm not going to have 2 in one day"
So that was that. No way was she going to take the pill and she wouldn't believe me when I said she told me she hadn't had it.

Sometimes you just can't win. But your case is more serious because the pills your mum takes are necessary to keep her alive.

Mum's OT has now arranged for someone to go in in the evening to prompt her to take the pill and to do a safety check (gas fire off, no mouldy food in the fridge or cupboards etc). I'm sure this could be arranged for your mum too. I'd push for it if I were you.