Refuses all medical intervention


Registered User
Mar 25, 2007
My wife, 83, has moderate dementia of the Alzheimer's type, mainly memory loss and delusions, a steady decline but but happily no serious physical consequences yet. She was treated with aricept for 51 day very successfully - a daughter said it was like having the old Mummy back again - but abruptly refused to take any more, insulted and drove away the Community Nurse who used to visit her, and swears she will never again see her psychiatrist or take aricept, prozac or anything like it. Why? She says aricept gave her a terrifying hallucination of someone horrible in the kitchen. It didn't. of course - I think it originated in her ordinary confusion. My and our offsprings' atempts to get her to change her mind only generate fury. Any advice?


Registered User
Feb 17, 2006
I wish I could give you some really Good advice , but Its so hard when they refuse medication that is helping them .

My mother was like that, It was hard convincing her to take the medication, standing by her , repeating the benefits, me trying to be so assertive over her, with out losing my temper it was so hard , but I got they in the end and she would take them

Exbixa gave my mother hallucination, because that is the side effects of the medication .

Don't know about the side effects of aricept , if it would give her hallucination ?

PS forgot to say welcome to TP :)
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Grannie G

Volunteer Moderator
Apr 3, 2006

My husband tried Aricept and Reminyl and both gave him horrific hallucinations. He also refuses to have anyone in to help him.

He is now refusing all other medication, for diabetes and depression. My grandson was playing in the garden yesterday and told me there were tablets on the ground. He had thrown them out of the toilet window.

This is not the first time this has happened. I reported it to his consultant, at the last appointment, and he told my husband his confusion and depression would increase, if he didn`t take his medication properly, but he has forgotten that.

I don`t know what you can do. We can`t force them. I asked my husband why he didn`t take his tablets and he said he wants to die.

So, sorry, I have no advice for you. I asked our GP for advice and he said we cannot use force. If my husband refuses medication, he will put it in his notes.

Meanwhile, I will give him his tablets every day, and hope he swallows them and doesn`t put them in his mouth, and then `go to the toilet`.


Registered User
Mar 7, 2004
Even in care homes patients can refuse medication.

It is so hard when we feel that we are only trying to do the best for them, but they have so very little control over their lives and illness. Would we behave like that in their shoes I wonder?

Lionel has had his medication changed to liquids and/or patches. When he refuses they just make a note on his chart. I was told it 'contravens their rights'
to try to make them take anything.

(I have to say they are very, very patient with him, and do try.)

fearful fiona

Registered User
Apr 19, 2007
I can sympathise with all this too. My Mum refuses all medication too. She looks everything up in a very old copy of the British National Formulary, looks at the side effects and throws medication away. She also reckons she knows better than the doctor. At least she hasn't got the internet to look things up on.

I don't know if it's any consolation but if something happens out of the ordinary, she has bad hallucinations too, so that can happen without the medication!

As all the posts say, you can't force someone to take medication if they don't want to, but it is such a pity one has to just watch and know that things could be so much better.


Registered User
Oct 17, 2006
fearful fiona She looks everything up in a very old copy of the British National Formulary said:
You could be talking about my Mum!! It is hard to watch but what else can you do. It really gets me when Mum asks 'what can I do' and I mention the Dr's medicine 'but that has side effects' she says forgetting that one of the side effects is that it can make you better!! It's hard enough having to battle with the illness never mind having to battle with the patient!!


Registered User
Apr 15, 2007
Hi, my mum is also 83 and some years back refused to take her medication for her osteoporosis,her GP wasn't bothered just said "you can't force them" and mum also has a melanoma in her eye with a satellite tumor off it, this was checked every three months, and then decided, because it wasn't doing anything every six months it was to be checked,well twelve months back she refused to go and see the specialist,I was told that with her age the likelihood of this cancer taking off was far greater, hence the importance to have it checked,mum wont go and she can't be made to either, when I'd tell her that she could get very sick and maybe die, she'd say "We all die of something you know, even if it's just lack of life" but now I doubt if she evens knows anything about the cancer. The care home where she is now, read about it on her medical notes and are going to bring it to the resident doctors notice. I see no point in putting mum through any distress, not at the stage she is at with this disease. So I am sorry, I have no advise, but fingers crossed, someone else may. Taffy.


Registered User
Mar 25, 2007
To all those who responded to my post - thank you for your comments and sympathy. Sadly, the message seems to be just carry on as best you can, nothing can be done.
One hint I picked up elsewhere in these pages: a carer had successfully recruited someone whose opinion the patient greatly respected to persuade him/her to resume medication. That advice might be helpful to others, but in my case my wife respects no-one's opinion as much as her own. Thiogenes

Grannie G

Volunteer Moderator
Apr 3, 2006
thiogenes said:
That advice might be helpful to others, but in my case my wife respects no-one's opinion as much as her own. Thiogenes

I do sympathize, but you can only do your best.

Take care


Registered User
Oct 28, 2005
Cambridgeshire UK
My husband Steve (56 years old) often refuses to take medication, he's not on Exelon anymore as it wasn't working for him and the staff at the care home asked me to write a letter to the GP saying that I gave my permission for them to put his meds in his food at these times and then the GP has to write to someone else, not sure who, but at least if he refuses it now, they will put it in his food. They said I had to give my permission because as we all know, it can be classed as abuse or assault if they try to give it to them when they refuse. I was told this is quite rare now, to do this.



Registered User
Jul 13, 2005
I have posted about this before, its an ongoing problem with Mary. It seems to come in waves, and to me it seems to be accompanied by paranaoia, as she seems to question why she has so many tablets to take ( blood pressure, anti-depressants etc) My problem is, she doesn't refuse outright, but hides them and disposes of them in her bedroom, or in the bin. If I keep an eye on her until she takes them she gets very stroppy.

Then there are weeks when she doesn't question and takes them without any problems. Our consultant prescribed liquid meds, but she resisted that as they are very bitter and she insisted I was trying to poison her.

Patches sound like a good idea, but I just know she'd sit and pick them off. I'm afraid its a take a day at a time situation, every day is different.


Registered User
Jun 27, 2006
Splat88: re liquid medications. Have you asked the pharmacist if they have access to the flavourings that are sometimes used for children's liquid meds? I'm not sure if a) they're available in the UK or b) available everywhere but they make liquid meds highly palatable (personally I prefer the Strawberry). Oddly, they are much "nicer" flavour than the sort of disgusting taste you get in say, commercially made cough medicine. The company that seems to have the lock on the market is Flavorx, but there may well be others. The advantage of this sort of product is that not only does it add flavour, it also has something in it that masks the bitterness and smell.



Registered User
Feb 17, 2006
Lancs, England
Bitter Pill

I don't know if this is any help but I have given Ron his tablets in a small spoonful of chocolate spread for several years and the Nursing Home has carried on with the practise. Mind you I think one nurse is giving him them individually (4) It's a wonder the lbs. aren't piling on. I used to put 4 in together.
I think if you are struggling anything is worth a try.



Registered User
Nov 28, 2005
Bedford UK
My mum was perscribed some medication but she had some lucid dreams and upset tummy so she decided not to continue the treatment.
I saw no change in her condition and as she refised medication the dementure clinic will no see her for checkups anymore, they say there is no point!


Registered User
Jul 10, 2006
south lanarkshire
mocha said:
I don't know if this is any help but I have given Ron his tablets in a small spoonful of chocolate spread for several years
Hi All

I think this is a good idea, anyway worth a try. Alzheimers sufferers I think, have a sweet tooth. At least my Dad has.

However, medication for Mum before the care home was always a struggle and still is, in the care home. Distraction, was the answer.

Ask a question and let her tell a story, while saying this tablet is just in case you have a headache, backache, etc. meanwhile, giving her the tablets.

We never mentioned Alzheimers, memory, because Mum is in total denial.

Deceitful? Yes, but she did get her medication.