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Lilacs & Greensleeves: Medication (Mis)Management

Managing Your Prescription Medication

“As a senior living independently, you may be juggling multiple medications as part of your health care routine. Of course, it’s important to take your meds as prescribed by your doctor, but if you have a lot of different prescriptions to manage, it can get complicated. You can make life easier by setting up a medication schedule to help you take your medications properly and help you get the most benefit from them.

Why It’s Important to Stick to Your Medication Schedule

Doctors will tell you that you must take medications exactly as prescribed, because taking them incorrectly can lead to problems. For example, taking multiple medications that aren’t timed properly — before or after a meal, etc., might lead to a drug interaction, or the drug might not work as well as it should. On days when you’re feeling on top of the world, you might feel like skipping a day or two of your medication. Conditions such as blood pressure and cholesterol, however, may exhibit no symptoms, and you could aggravate the condition without even knowing it. Until your doctor okays discontinuing a medication, you need to stick to your prescribed medication schedule.

Tips for Taking Your Medication Properly

Yale Medical Group offers a number of tips to make it easier to manage your medication schedule and to make sure that your doctors and pharmacists know everything you’re taking and when you’re taking it. They suggest you make a list of all medications and supplements (vitamins, herbs, etc.) and give a copy to all your doctors and pharmacists. The FDA recommends that you keep a list with you at all times (in your purse or wallet).

Here are some ways you can stay on top of your medication schedule:

Make a master list of all your medications. Write them down in the order you take them from morning to night. Beside each medication, list any special instructions such as “take on an empty stomach,” “take with food,” or “take at bedtime.”

Use a divided pill case, and put all medications for one day in each compartment. Be sure to keep the pill case where you’ll see it throughout the day and out of the reach of small children. Or invest in an automatic medication dispensing service to help make sure you’re always taking the correct dosage. See here>

Set an alarm for medication time with your watch, phone, or kitchen timer in case you get involved in something and lose track of the time.

If you find that your medication schedule is running your life or if it’s just ridiculously complicated, take the list to your doctor and ask if there’s a way to simplify it — maybe you could take your medicine twice a day instead of throughout the day.

These tips can help make sure you remember to take your medication correctly and at the proper time. When you follow your medication schedule and take your medication as directed, you’re meeting your doctor halfway in reaching your mutual goal — ensuring that you feel your absolute best and get the most out of life.”

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Written by

Deb is our own Deborah McSherry, experienced nurse and caregiver extraordinaire. Deb has been with Care4You since 2009.