Administering medication to the elderly: 4 top tips for common challenges

If you’re the primary carer of an elderly relative, you’ll be familiar with the difficulties than can arise when it’s time to administer medication, particularly if your patient has a cognitive impairment such as Alzheimers or dementia. And if your patient has had a stroke or digestive issues they may have difficulty with swallowing.

We’ve put together 4 ways you can try that might take the stress out of ‘pill-time’, for you and your loved one:

  • Did you know most medications can me made up as a liquid suspensions? They don’t have to be pills and tablets – they can be just like the old cough syrup we all remember having as kids. Liquid suspensions are much easier to swallow than large pills and they can also be administered orally through a syringe if needed. With a script from your patient’s doctor, a compounding chemist can make up liquid suspensions for a very wide range of medications
  • Some medicines taste simply awful. We’re all now thinking about the childhood cough syrup again. You can’t really blame your patient for not wanting to swallow something that tastes like it leaked from the back drain of a chemical factory. A compounding chemist can help here by making up your patient’s medication with fun flavours like butterscotch, chocolate, raspberry, vanilla and bubblegum. It’s not sugar, but it sure does help make the medicine go down.
  • A troche is similar to a small lozenge that dissolves over 30 minutes or so when placed in the mouth between the cheek and the tongue. Most of the active ingredients in the medication are absorbed into the bloodstream through the mouth and cheek walls, while the remainder is absorbed into the body when it enters the stomach through saliva. Like liquid suspensions, many medications can be made up as troches. Troches are particularly suited to patients who have difficulty swallowing, due to a stroke for instance, or for patient’s who have highly sensitive digestive systems and can’t tolerate the irritation of strong medications entering the gut. Compounding chemists can make up troches for you however it’s important that you speak to the doctor first to see if a troche is right for your loved one.
  • Some powdered or liquid medications can be added to foods, such as bolognaise or fruit juice, to disguise the taste and texture. However it’s important to ensure that your patient consumes all the food or drink or they may not be digesting the full dose of their medication. And be sure to check with the doctor if the pills your patient has been prescribed can be crushed. Some lose their effectiveness.

For more information on how a compounding chemist can help take some of the stress out of your carer responsibilities, talk to one of the friendly team at National Custom Compounding or drop us a line at [email protected]