A hand with a string tied to the index finger reaches into a pill organizer for the tablets inside. Beside the organizer is an untied piece of string, a post-it note with pills drawn on it, and and Alexa device providing a reminder to take pills.

A Jagged Little Pill: Remembering To Take Medication with Alzheimer's

The role reversal between parent and child is the last farewell to childhood. You always want your mom or dad to be the ultimate counselor in your corner. No one makes grilled cheese sandwiches like Mom. I’m the one making grilled cheese for Mom now, and I make most of her meals. She doesn’t always remember how to do it.

The parent-child relationship

When you have kids of your own, you feel this overwhelming sense of responsibility. You have this person that you have to keep alive. You want them to grow up healthy and strong and become independent, to go out into the world and contribute to society.

When you have a parent with Alzheimer’s disease, it’s like this Benjamin Button situation where everything is going backward. You try to keep them healthy and active, but you know they are not going to get better. Maybe they will plateau for a while, but the decline is inevitable. You have to change your goal. Independence can’t be it. Your parent has already contributed to society, and you are standing right there or sitting reading this.

Becoming more dependent with Alzheimer's

Your parent with Alzheimer’s disease is becoming more dependent, not less. The more my mom forgets, the more I have to remember. I have set up Alexa to remind her to take her pills. She tells Alexa to stop, and then still doesn’t take her pills. She got distracted. Her show wasn’t over or was just starting or her puzzle on her iPad wasn’t done yet. I have to check if she took her pills. So far I haven’t had to administer her meds. She can still do that, but it is getting more confusing for her.

Medication management with Alzheimer's

I got her to start filling her weekly pill box with her am and pm daily meds on Sunday. She used to start her box whenever she got to it. Sometimes her week started on Wednesday. It got way too confusing when she started missing days more often. Starting on Sunday every week made it easier for me. It was a battle at first. She was confident and swore she knew what she was doing, that she had been doing this for years. I asked her to help me to help her. She was doing it for me. This way we could both be happy and both know, not just her.

I have a power of attorney, so I can talk to whomever I need to talk to, but it's usually enough for my mom to tell the pharmacist what she needs and to let them talk to me on speakerphone. I get the notifications for refills on my phone now. Mom rarely answers her phone. It’s usually scammers these days, anyway.

My mom wants to ride a bike this summer. I may be reteaching her. I taught my kids. I have looked into it, and they do make adult training wheels. They will be non-negotiable.

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