Remembering when and how often to take your medications is extremely important. Only about 50% to 60% of Americans actually take their mediations as prescribed. It is estimated that forgetting or neglecting to take prescription medications correctly results in about 10%of all hospital admissions. If you are juggling several medications remembering to take the right medications at the right time can be challenging. Here are some tips that will help you remember to take your medications:
1. Start using a Calendar: You can purchase a paper calendar and hang it in your room. Try writing in bright colors, and pick a different color for each medication you take. Mark clearly on your calendar which days to take which medications. You can also search through free electronic calendars on the internet or use calendar software that may have come with your computer. Some of these programs will allow you to set reminders that can be sent either by email or text messaging.
2. Set Visual Reminders: Put your medication near something that you deal with on a daily basis. For example, if you take your medications in the morning set them next to the coffee pot or on top of your alarm clock. You could even attach your medication bottle to your toothbrush with Velcro. Another idea is to put a message on your computer’s screen saver or a sticky note on the fridge, your car, or anywhere that you will notice it every day.
3. Make it Part of Your Routine: Taking your medication at the same time everyday will make it a habit. Pick a time that can stay consistent each day like as soon as you step out of the shower or as soon as you get out of bed. A great time to take your medication is with a meal (some medications require this already). You can even set the pill bottle in the middle of your table to help you remember.
4. Make a Check List: If you have a very complex regimen, try making a grid of your medications with the time and date that you need to take them. Put this in a place where you will see it daily like on the mirror in your bathroom, and then check off the medications after you have taken them.
5. Set an Auditory Reminder: Most cell phones have an alarm function that will allow you to set a daily alarm that will remind you to take your medication. Choose a tone that is different than your ring tone so that you will be able to distinguish it as your medication alert. If you do not have a cell phone, you can set your alarm clock to go off at a particular time each day or if you own a digital watch you can use your watch alarm. As soon as the alarm goes off, it is important to immediately take your medication.
6. Hire a Calling Service: You can hire a calling service to give you a call reminder to take your medications. There are some free services that you can search for online which will make free reminder calls to you.
7. Use a Pill Sorter: These are often known as “dosettes.” They are compartmentalized containers with compartments divided for different days and even different times of the day. Sorting pills this way can help you avoid accidentally taking the same pill twice in one day.
8. Divide and Conquer: You can take half of your medication and keep it in a place other than your household, such as at your office. If you happen to forget to take your medicine before you leave for work, you can easily access it at work. Be very mindful of the medication’s storing conditions, especially if you plan to keep your pills in your car.
9. Get Someone to Remind You: Have a friend of a loved one remind you to take your medication. Find someone you trust who has a great memory to call you, email you, or text you everyday to ask if you have taken your medications for that particular day. Sometimes just a few weeks of friendly reminders will get you in the habit of taking your medications correctly.
10. Get a Special Device: If you are willing to spend a little more money you can find a variety of devices such as medicine computers, vibrating watches, automatic dispensers, and beepers that can help you stay on track with taking your medication correctly and on time. These can be very costly, but might be worth the investment if no other memory tactics are working for you.
Taking your medications correctly is very important. According to government estimate, about 125,000 people die a year from failure to properly take their medications. If none of these above methods work for you then I highly suggest that you look into getting a Home Care Provider to help with medication dispensing. Another great solution is to look into Assisted Living Facilities that will have qualified staff who can ensure you take your medication properly.