Most of us would prefer not to have to reach for pills and tablets on a daily basis. For a start, it can be stressful trying to remember when and how often to take them. Some medicines also have unpleasant side effects and are a constant reminder of the health issues we have. But, the consequences of non-adherence to prescribed medication can be serious. So, how can you make your life a little easier so that you’re always compliant with whatever the doctor orders? Read on to find out.
It’s important that your doctor knows about all the medicines you’re taking. This must include anything you’re able to buy over the counter. Vitamins, herbal remedies and painkillers have the potential to interact with prescribed medications.
Mixing some drugs can create nasty and sometimes serious side effects. For example, aspirin is dangerous when taking blood-thinning medicine.
Before starting a new course of medication, let your doctor know about any allergies you have. You should also tell them about issues you may have had with medicines. This could include breathing problems, rashes, indigestion or mood changes.
Here are some things to add to your to-do list:
- Keep a written record of all the drugs and medicines you’re taking
- Write down when you started taking the medicines and any special instructions
- Keep a note about why you need a particular medication
Some medicines can cause side effects that can vary in severity and from person to person. Some might cause a mild headache, while others could affect a person’s ability to drive. Caring for yourself means having a strategy. Write down any side effects you might experience so that you can accurately report them to your doctor. There may be alternative medicines available that are just as effective.
Enlist the Help of Your Pharmacist
Our homecare team can help you find ways to keep you compliant with taking your medicines. They cannot, however, dispense medication but can prompt you and act as a helpful reminder. Pharmacists are a useful source of information, especially for quick queries that might avoid a doctor’s visit.
You should always try to have all your prescriptions processed at the same pharmacy. This keeps all your records in one place. It also helps alert your pharmacist if a new drug might cause problems with another medication you might already be taking.
Here are some other ways your pharmacist might be able to help:
- Offering liquid alternatives to pills if you have trouble swallowing
- Understanding what’s written on a label if it’s hard to read
- Dispensing pills into “easy to open” containers
- Advice on where to store medication
How to Keep Track of Your Medication
It all starts with that list. Make sure you update your written record of all the medicines you are taking, over the counter or prescribed. Keep the list in a safe place and have a copy handy to carry with you.
You should include the names and contact details of all your healthcare providers on the list. This should include all the doctors, pharmacists, homecare providers, dentists and therapists.
Always check the expiry dates on medicine bottles and packages of pills or tablets. If a particular medication is past its expiry date, your pharmacist may be able to dispose of it for you.
Remember to keep all medicines out of the reach of young children, particularly when the packaging is easy to open. You should also try to avoid taking medicines in front of them. Children have a habit of copying what they see adults do.
How to Take Medication Safely
There are plenty of precautions you can take that will help prevent you from running into difficulties with your meds. Here are some practical steps you can take:
- 1. Always Follow the Instructions
Before taking any kind of medication, you should read the label. Stick to medicines that manufacturers have developed for your specific problem. For instance, do not use an over-the-counter syrup for colds if what you are actually suffering from is a cough.
- 2. Take the Recommended Dose of Medication
It’s not just the ingredients of a medication that counts. It’s also the quantity that you take that matters. You must use the correct dosage. Taking more will not necessarily help you more and, in some cases, could be very dangerous. Never miss or reduce the number of doses as outlined on a prescription. Stick to what the label says or to the advice of whoever dispenses the drugs.
- 3. Always Take Your Meds on Time
Plenty of medication requires patients to take it at a specific time for optimum effect. That could be with or without food. Depending on the instructions, you could:
- Use waking up, brushing your teeth, mealtimes or bedtime as a reminder
- Keep a chart, calendar or use a pillbox
- Set timers on your phone or computer
- Write reminders on objects you use regularly like the fridge
- 4. Turn On the Lights
Never take medicine in the dark. This is so that you can avoid taking the wrong medicine and too much or little of a specific kind of medication.
- 5. In Case of Problems, Call Your Doctor
If you experience any issues with any drugs you are taking, prescription or otherwise, talk to your doctor. Drugs can affect people differently and so you might suffer a serious side effect that most others wouldn’t have.
- 6. Talk to Your Doctor About Your Lifestyle
Alcohol, tobacco as well as other kinds of drugs can have an impact on any prescribed drugs you are taking. Caring for yourself means always being honest with your doctor about your own lifestyle choices. This is especially important if you think you might be drinking above the recommended limit.
- 7. Complete the Course
You may feel better but that does not necessarily mean you should stop taking a course of drugs. This is particularly true of antibiotics. Follow the instructions and if you want to stop a course of medication early, check with your doctor first that it’s safe to do so.
- 8. Never Share Your Medication
You should never take medicines or pills prescribed to another person. You should also never give any of your medication to somebody else.
Comfort Keepers Is There to Support You with Medication Reminders
Our team of homecare professionals has plenty of experience helping people find reliable ways to take their meds. They share tried and trusted tips that they pick up from all those they care for.
Find out more here about all the services Comfort Keepers can offer you or your loved ones.