Why Do I Need to Manage Medications?
When you take more than a couple medications, errors can easily happen. This can range from missing a dose to overdose. Managing your medication effectively can help reduce potentially fatal errors. Use one pharmacy to dispense all medications so can monitor unsafe interactions.
How Do I Manage My Medications?
The key to successfully managing your medications is through organization. These organization tips will help ensure your medications are taken safely andon time.
1. Choose a pharmacy and stick with that one.
When you use one pharmacy to dispense all medications, the computer system can easily monitor unsafe interactions. Doctors are fallible just like anyone else. Why not have a check and balance system in place?
2. Use a Daily Pill Organizer
Better yet use two. Have one in use and one you can “build” before the other runs out.
To ensure medication is taken on a timely basis, keep a dosage schedule (see #4) nearby that also includes a physical description of each pill, such as “blue capsule” or “large white pill.”
3. Keep a List of All Your Current Medications
Make a list of all medications you take, with the name, dosage, frequency, side effects, and whether the medication has been stopped. Also include any allergies you have to medications.
Make several copies and give them to doctors at appointments and to your pharmacist. Keep a copy stored on your computer so you can add to it if prescribed new medications, and print out more copies as needed.
I’ve created a Medication List that you can download here.
4. Create a Dosing Schedule Chart
A Dosing Schedule Chart is simply a chart of the medications you take on a weekly basis with boxes you can physically mark off each day. You will see at a glance what you have missed.
This can also be done on your computer with a spreadsheet or word processing program. List all medications, what they look like, the times they need to be taken, and a space by each dose, so you can check off when each is taken.
If all your meds fit neatly into a pill organizer, you can delete this step. Some meds (like eye drops) are harder to keep track of and require a reminder!
For those meds that are given “as needed,” you may also want to include why it is taken. This can be annotated as “for nausea” or for whatever reason the medication is needed. If you have medications that require refrigeration, also note it.
5. Check Prescription Labels Often
When looking at a prescription label, check the expiration date and refill information. Properly discard old medication. When running low on a medication that has a refill, call your pharmacist before you run out. This way you will not miss any doses.
If you think you may need a refill on a medication that has none left, call your doctor’s office as soon as possible to allow time for the doctor to call the pharmacist.
6. Use a Pill Reminder Gadget (optional)
There are several electronic pill reminders on the market of varying prices. You can input the name of the medication, how often you need to take it, and if you need to take it with food.
An alarm will sound, much like an alarm clock or cell phone ringer, alerting you to what medication needs to be taken and how much. There are now electronic pill reminders that “talk,” relaying information verbally.
Does this list make you want to hide your head in the sand? I understand. Here is your Quick Start Guide:
- Adhere to the ONE pharmacy rule, please!
- Then, get a friend or family member to hold you accountable to at least complete your list of medications (# 3).
- Once you have that done, look for a pill reminder that has AM/PM dividers and each day’s meds are removable for travel.
You will be well on your way to managing your medications responsibly!