7 Tips on Taking Medications
Do you take several medications to keep blood glucose, blood pressure, and cholesterol on target? Here are some ideas for taking medications as prescribed so that they can protect your health.
1 | Know Your Plan
Ask your doctor or pharmacist what your medications do, when you should take them, and how best to take them (with or without food, for example). Knowing how your meds work can help you buy into why you need to take them, says Jenny Van Amburgh, PharmD, BCACP, CDE, an associate clinical professor at Northeastern University. Take notes and have your provider check them for accuracy.
If you’re having trouble affording medication, talk to your health care provider about a treatment plan for your budget. You may be eligible for prescription assistance programs, which some pharmaceutical companies offer to help people with low incomes on a short-term basis. Check www.needymeds.org to search for such programs. For help on taking your meds as directed, visit www.scriptyourfuture.org.
2 | Keep It Simple
You may be able to streamline your regimen. “Ask your doctor if there is any way to decrease the number of pills you’re taking each day,” says Van Amburgh. For example, some pills contain two types of medications.
3 | Make It Routine
Take your medications at the same time each day as directed, and do so alongside a daily activity, such as brushing your teeth, eating meals, or going to bed. Van Amburgh suggests tying a medication to an activity you’ll do anyway, to help remind you to take the dose.
4 | Use a Log
Keep a written or computerized medication schedule to track what meds to take and when.
5 | Divide and Conquer
Pillboxes help you organize meds; some models sound an alarm when it’s time to take a dose. Gretchen Becker, 71, of Halifax, Vt., who has type 2 diabetes, likes boxes that allow her to remove and carry a day’s compartment of pills at a time. “I can just slip it into my purse and be on my way,” she says.
6 | Keep Meds Visible
Put medications in view. “Don’t leave your medications on your bedside table if you’re taking them with breakfast,” says Van Amburgh. “Put them on the breakfast table.” To protect pets, kids, and others, use safety caps and lockable pillboxes.
7 | Leave Evidence
After Becker injects insulin, she puts the plunger cap into a seven-day pillbox. She can look into that day’s compartment to see whether she’s taken her shot.