You are dealing with one of the main challenges of caring for a loved one with schizophrenia: not wanting to take medication. It is very common among people with schizophrenia.
There’s a variety of reasons why people with schizophrenia might not want to take their medication including: they don’t like the way it makes them feel and they don’t believe they need it.
About 50 percent of individuals with schizophrenia don’t recognize that they are ill. This neurological condition is called anosognosia. Because they do not believe they are ill, they conclude that treatment is unnecessary and often subsequently refuse all treatments.
You should continue trying to convince your father to take his medication but as you recognize, this is difficult. You cannot force him to take his medication even though you know that it can stabilize his symptoms. This is one of the most difficult emotional aspects of caring for a loved one with schizophrenia. You know the medication helps because you’ve seen it work, yet your loved one won’t take it and becomes sicker and sicker. It’s the tragic reality that characterizes so many cases of schizophrenia.
Ultimately, the mobile team may have to come to the home and admit him to the hospital. Obviously, that is not the ideal outcome, but at least you will know he’s safe in the hospital. The hospital staff will constantly monitor and treat his symptoms and keep him safe.
If he loses his job, then you may want to contact an attorney to assist your father in applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). SSDI is a federal program that, if approved, will provide your father with health insurance and a monthly stipend.
For additional assistance, I would recommend contacting your local National Alliance On Mental Illness (NAMI) support group. NAMI is a free support group for people who are caring for a loved one with a severe mental illness. Virtually every community has a NAMI presence. I would also recommend the book I’m Not Sick I Don’t Need Help: How To Help Someone With Mental Illness Accept Treatment by Dr. Xavier Amador. The book provides practical assistance to family members dealing with the challenge of caring for a loved one, with mental illness, who does not want to take their medication.
If you have additional questions, don’t hesitate to write again. Please take care.
Dr. Kristina Randle