Stick to your treatment, the easy way!

Having trouble sticking to your treatment? You're not alone. Half of all people prescribed medications are not using them properly or not using them at all! This can lead to serious health problems, hospitalization, and emergency room visits.

You can protect your health by taking your medication as directed by your doctor. Sometimes this can be hard. Here are a few ways to make it easier:

Sign up for reminders. Many pharmacies offer programs to remind you when it's time to refill your medication. Some pharmacies and drug companies offer reminder services (by phone or email) to help you remember to take your medication. Check with your pharmacist to find out about reminder services.

Simplify. Talk to your pharmacist about ways to make your medication routine simpler. You may choose to:

  • switch to medications that are taken less often (e.g., once a day)
  • switch to combination products (pills containing 2 or more different medications)
  • switch the dosage form, if another one is available that is easier for you to take (e.g., tablet to liquid)
  • stop medications that you no longer need

Ask for a medication list. Your pharmacist can review your current medications, suggest changes to simplify and improve your medication routine, and provide you with a medication list to help you remember which medications you are taking and when. Keep your medication list with you and bring it to your medical visits so it can be kept up to date.

Make it part of your routine. Take the medication at the same time as something else you do regularly, such as brushing your teeth. Check with your pharmacist first to see whether your medication needs to be taken with food, on an empty stomach, or at a particular time of day in order to work best.

Organize your medications with a dosette or blister pack. These handy packages organize your medications by day or by time of day (e.g., morning, noon, afternoon, bedtime). Blister packs are made by your pharmacy, while dosettes are filled by your pharmacist or caregiver (or you can fill them yourself). Dosettes and blister packs make it easy to tell which medications should be taken at what times, and let you see whether you've taken a dose.

Use a memory aid. There are many memory aids available. Talk to your pharmacist about which one is best for you:

  • Alarms let you know when it's time for your next dose. You can buy special medication alarms or use the alarms you've already got on your watch or smartphone.
  • Physical or online calendars can be used to help you keep track of your doses and remind you to take your next dose.
  • Electronic caps fit on your medication container and record the time when the vial was last opened. This can be helpful if you forget whether you took your last dose.

Concerned about side effects, cost, or whether you really need the medication? Talk to your doctor or pharmacist. They can listen to your concerns and help you decide whether the medication is for you. If not, they can suggest other options.

Try not to feel discouraged if the first tip you try doesn't work. You may find that a combination of these tips works best. It may take a while to find the way that works best for you. But by trying these tips, you've taken an important step towards improving your health!

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