Medication takeovers: Covert druggings and behavioral control in Alzheimer's

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5 Scopus citations


Older adults consume the most prescription medication in the U.S. For those who develop Alzheimer's disease, risk of medication misuse increases with the progression of the disease. Family members commonly intervene to lessen risks by taking over the management and administering of a medication regimen. Despite the potential for grave harm around the misuse of powerful drugs, few studies provide insight into the household social context of medication use for this disease. Drawing on 60 in-depth interviews conducted in four waves over 2.5 years, this study investigates how family members administered prescription and over-the-counter medications to elders with Alzheimer's. The findings detail how family members initially created and enacted the role of proxy-administrator to avoid self-administration errors and then expanded the role to manage disruptive behaviors. During this process, family members perceived themselves as working in partnership with doctors, especially in the effort to craft a regimen that controlled the affected individual's mood and sleep/wake cycle. The paper concludes by discussing the implications that family members used medications to improve conformity to a preferred household social order. The study offers conceptual advances in understanding 1) the process of proxy-administration in Alzheimer's care and 2) the role of proxy-administrators in the medicalization of deviant behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)51-59
Number of pages9
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
StatePublished - Sep 1 2017


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Caregiving
  • Conflict
  • Interaction
  • Medicalization
  • Medication use
  • Social control
  • US

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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