3 Ways to Handle a Medication Moaner

By Anne-Marie Botek, AgingCare.com Editor

As a parent, how many times have you heard your child, spouse, or aging family member utter the phrase, “I don’t want to take my medicine because…”?

Papatya Tankut, vice president of professional pharmacy services at CVS/pharmacy, offers solutions to three common complaints of people who won’t take their meds:

  • “It tastes gross.” The first step here is to make sure the meds can be taken with the proverbial ‘spoonful of sugar.’ Look on the bottle to make sure the prescription can be taken with food. Tankut says some important things to watch out for are whether the medicine: has to be taken on an empty stomach, can’t be crushed, or can’t be taken with dairy products or certain types of juice.  If the medication can be taken while eating, she suggests placing pills inside small pieces of food, or taking liquid medications in conjunction with a tasty beverage. If a tablet cannot be crushed, you can still put it in their food—just make sure that it’s something they can swallow without chewing, like applesauce. For meds that can’t be taken with food, Tankut suggests telling your loved one to place the medicine on the back of their tongue and swallow it with a large glass of water.


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  • “It hurts my stomach, makes me tired, etc.” Unfortunately, the side effects of certain medications can be unpleasant and, in some cases, unavoidable. Tankut says that you should make an effort to become well-versed in the common side effects of a loved one’s medications before they begin taking them. It is also a good idea to periodically ask the person how their medications are making them feel. If prescriptions are having a consistently negative impact on a loved one’s health, Tankut suggests bringing this to the attention of their doctor or pharmacist. The health professional will know what (if anything) can be done to alleviate their symptoms and prevent future complications.


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  • “I just don’t feel like it.” There are a host of reasons why someone may not ‘feel like’ taking their medications, from denial about their medical condition, to having difficulty opening up the prescription bottle. Most of these issues can be rectified, but you have to know what the real problem is before you can figure out how to fix it. You can try getting to the root cause of your loved one’s resistance by asking them to clarify their objection to taking their medicine. It may help to say something to the effect of, “I really want to understand where you’re coming from, could you tell me a little more about why you don’t want to take your meds?” Listen carefully to their answer and see if you can tease out what the issue with their medication really is. If the person remains resistant or vague, don’t lose your temper, as this will only make them less likely to cooperate. Maintain a positive, supportive demeanor, and seek help from their doctor or pharmacist. These medical professionals have experience with your loved one’s specific medications and they may be able to offer some insight into why that person might be reluctant take them.


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How to Handle A Medication Moaner originally appeared on AgingCare.com.


James Berryhill
James Berryhill5 years ago


Sue H.
Sue H5 years ago

Good tips, thanks.

Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson5 years ago

thanks so much

Terry Vanderbush
Terry V5 years ago


J.L. A.
j A5 years ago

With older people, one can respond based on it being their choice and do they want to live with the consequences of not treating/preventing the condition(s)?

Julie W.
Julie W5 years ago

I told an adult who said she 'didn't like' a herbal tea - "you don't have to like it, just drink it"! I grew up with nasty tasting medicines (no pandering to children's tastes then!) , and survived.I
wonder if we are not overdoing the 'spoonful of sugar' idea, as they now expect everything to taste good. It doesn't!

Magdalen B.
Magdalen B5 years ago

When my children were little, I used a glove puppet to hold the spoon-worked every time.

Rebecca S.
Rebecca S5 years ago

there are real reasons though that you should listen to when someone says they don't want to take a medication.

Julie H.
Julie Hoffman5 years ago


Christine C.
Chandra C5 years ago