Keeping up with your medications can be difficult for a number of reasons. It can be the high cost of prescription medication, side effects from the drugs, forgetfulness or uncertainty about particular doses. These are all common issues that affect many people. In fact, these issues are so common that doctors have a term for them: “non-adherence.”
So what can you do to stick to taking your medications as prescribed and when you need them?
1. Talk to your doctor
If you’re finding it difficult to manage the cost of your medications, or you find your medication regimen confusing, tell your doctor. There may be alternatives to let you cut back on the amount of medications or individual doses. Cost can be a difficult subject, but it’s one that’s best to discuss openly. Your doctor may be able to find cheaper options, such as drugs in a different class with lower copay or the generic version of a drug. You can also ask your doctor about prescription discount coupons available from companies like Optum Perks.
2. Ask loved ones for help
If you’re missing doses for any reason, your family or loved ones may be able to help. Most of the time they will be happy to help and do what they can to offer support by finding cost-saving solutions (such as shopping around and using Rx coupons), reminding you to take your medication, or finding helpful and creative ways to get you organized.
3. Use organizational tools
Pillboxes are one of the most popular and effective ways of helping people stick to their medication regimen. They are usually organized by week or month, and some are broken down by a.m./p.m. At the start of each week or month, you fill each day with the medicine you need. This simplifies organization and complicated regimens. Some pillboxes even include reminders and alarms.
Keeping your pillbox in plain sight, rather than in a drawer or cupboard, will help make sure your medication regimen stays top of mind.
If your pillbox does not include a built-in alarm, your smartphone is a great substitute. Most Android or Apple phones let you set up multiple alarms and reminders using the Clock or Calendar apps. Reminders can be as basic or detailed as you like – for example, “take pills” or “take 40mg Lipitor pill.”
4. Make your medication part of your routine
Do you like to read the newspaper first thing every morning after breakfast, or take your dog for a walk at the same time every day? Taking your medication at a specific time makes it easier to remember. And if you take it before or after one of your favorite daily rituals or routines, it’s less likely to cause stress by associating it with something you enjoy.
5. Keep track of what you’re taking and how it affects you
Sometimes people will skip their medication because they don’t like how it makes them feel. If you’re concerned about the side effects your medication may be causing, you should tell your doctor straight away.
Writing down which drugs you’ve been prescribed, as well as when, why and how they’ve made you feel, will give you and your doctor a clear picture of how changes to your medications might be affecting you.