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Tips for Managing Your Medication

March 30, 2018

As you get older, complicated health conditions can become more common. To manage symptoms, your doctor may prescribe several medications, each needing to be taken at specific times with specific directions. Before you know it, you find yourself asking: “Was I supposed to take my medicine today? Did I already take it? When was the last time I took it?” If this is something you already experience, you know that missing a dose may result in delayed healing.

In an effort to provide education during Medication Safety Week, here are some tips and resources to help you manage your medications and keep up with your prescriptions.

Talk to Your Doctor or Pharmacist

When you are prescribed a new medication, it’s important to talk to your doctor and understand its use. Make sure he or she knows any allergies you have and what medications you are already taking. This information may affect what you are being prescribed. Additionally, if you are taking multiple medications, discuss with your doctor whether it is possible to reduce the amount of medications you take. The National Institute of Health (NIH) has compiled a list of questions to ask your doctors here.

Your pharmacist can help make taking medicine easier: giving you an easy-to-open bottle, finding a liquid version if you have trouble swallowing tablets and printing directions in a larger font or another language are all ways that he or she might be able to help. Try to stay with one pharmacy so that all your records are kept in one place. Having one pharmacist helps to catch any potential issues with your medications, such as combining your prescription with an over-the-counter drug that may produce negative results.

If you are prescribed a new medication while visiting St. Vincent Neighborhood Hospital, our in-house pharmacists are available 24/7 to answer any questions you may have.

Remember to follow-up with your doctor with any side effects that you experience, problems that arise and whether it’s working. Your doctor can help you find alternatives that work with your lifestyle. Never stop or change your medication without first talking to a medical professional.

Follow the Directions

After picking up your new medication, make sure you understand exactly how it needs to be taken. While the directions are usually written on the bottle, your doctor or pharmacist can talk you through it as well. Before starting a new medication, make sure to know the following:

  • How much is each dose? Do not take more than the prescribed amount.
  • How many times a day does it need to be taken?
  • Is there a certain time it needs to be taken? After waking up? Before going to bed? After a certain amount of time has passed?
  • Should it be taken with food? Before, during or after eating?
  • Is it okay to take it with other medications? Which ones should you avoid?
  • What to do if a dose is missed.

Follow the directions for each prescription carefully to avoid any potential problems. If you’re having trouble remembering the directions, ask your doctor to make a chart or document with all the directions and keep it somewhere that you can access it easily.

Remembering to Take Your Medication

The most common method to remembering medications is by using pill boxes. While this is an effective system for many, it might not be enough for others, especially if you have a lengthy list of prescriptions. Taking the chart your doctor prepared for you and creating a calendar may help with this. Other tools that may help you remember include:

  • Devices and Timers
    These devices can provide reminders for various times of day, either with sound, light or vibration. You can set this up yourself or for your elderly parents who have trouble remembering to take their pills. You can find devices like this at Reminder Rosie, MedMinder and e-pill.
     
  • Reminder Services
    To take the responsibility out of your hands, reminder services can call, text or email you or your loved ones with a reminder to take your medicine. Some of them will even call an emergency contact as back-up if no one picks up the phone. Services like this include: MyMedSchedule, OnTimeRx, Snoozester and Call Reassurance.
     
  • Apps
    If you or your loved one are a bit on the tech-savvy side, you may benefit from installing an app on your phone. These are great because they can store everything in one place: reminders, directions and other prescription information. You can also keep track of other important data (side effects, blood pressure, etc), that you can share with your doctors later. You can check out Medisafe or MedCoach (iPhone, Android).

While missing a dose may not be the end of the world for some, it could be the difference between life and death for others. If you are facing a medical emergency, St. Vincent Neighborhood Hospital provides closer, faster emergency care near you. Our emergency trained, board certified doctors and in-house pharmacists can answer questions about your medication so you can prevent another medication-related emergency. As always, in a life-threatening emergency, call 9-1-1.

Find the St. Vincent Neighborhood Hospital location nearest you.

Sources:
https://www.huffingtonpost.com/jim-t-miller/how-to-keep-up-with-your_b_7099668.html
http://abcnews.go.com/Health/ElderCare/elderly-caregivertips-managing-loved-medication/story?id=12733404
https://www.fda.gov/Drugs/ResourcesForYou/ucm163959.htm
https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/safe-use-medicines-older-adults