Tips for Taking Medicine | Give a Care

Family Caregiver Ideas for Taking Meds (Swallowing Pills)

While meds can be a daily necessity, because of age, fatigue or illness, swallowing pills can be super difficult and frustrating for both a patient and their caregiver. We struggled for years with getting Mom to swallow multiple pills, several times a day. When she was diagnosed with dysphagia, we were introduced to the wonder of crushing and swallowing pills. Even if your loved one isn’t on a dysphagia diet, if they are having trouble taking medicine each day, consult your doctor and pharmacist and ask about crushing pills and serving them with food. Here are our top tips for successful pill crushing:

  1. Double check with the pharmacist: There are some meds that simply aren’t allowed to be crushed because it diminishes their efficacy. Other pills have time-release coatings and are more difficult to crush into a powder. We have also learned randomly that some antibiotics shouldn’t be mixed with electrolyte-rich drinks like gatorade. Before you crush anything, ask your pharmacist if it is ok with the meds your loved one is on.
  2. Get a heavy duty crusher: You’ll see metal leverage crushing devices in hospitals and doctors offices – this is what you want, not a cheap plastic crusher that kills your hand when you use it. We have a “Silent Knight” for Mom and it is worth the investment. Your order thick plastic sleeves separately to crush the pills in and they typically come in bulk and can last you many months.
  3. Mix with something yummy: The fact is, most pills taste super gross when crushed. Mix crushed pills with applesauce, pudding, or thickened juice to help them go down quick and to diminish the bad flavor. Always follow up with fluids to make sure everything is down. Your loved one shouldn’t be chewing on little pieces of pill s/he find in their teeth hours later.
  4. Ask for a liquid form: You would be surprised the number of meds that come in liquid form, or “oral suspension” as the medical community terms it. If your loved one is having trouble swallowing pills, especially things like large antibiotics and vitamins, ask your doctor or pharmacist if there is a liquid form of the medicine they may take instead and if the cost is wildly different than if they took a pill. Never hurts to ask!

Thanks for reading these hints and tips from Give a Care. Do you have difficulty helping your loved one take their medicine? What would you add to the list of tips?

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