According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, up to 50% of prescribed medications are taken incorrectly, particularly with regard to timing, dosage, frequency, and duration. This is clearly alarming, especially to those whose well-being depends on taking prescribed medications the right way. Some older adults struggle to manage their medications due to forgetfulness, confusion, misunderstanding of their symptoms or conditions, or simply because they don’t follow a system that works.
These tips can help you or your loved one avoid the consequences of mismanaging medications.
#1. Use a pillbox
Pillboxes are handy and help conveniently keep track of medications. Choose one that’s labeled with seven days of the week or one with 30–31 slots for every day of the month. There’s a great variety of pillboxes (color-coded, with an automatic dispenser, etc.) and they’re practical for keeping track of medications that need to be taken on a daily basis. Consider using a separate pillbox for travel.
But, although they're a common solution to medication management, pillboxes may be not enough to ensure medication adherence, according to a study published in the Canadian Pharmacists Journal. When choosing a pillbox, it pays to seek a healthcare professional’s or pharmacist’s advice as to what type of pillbox is best for one’s medications, as well as how to use one properly.
#2. Incorporate medications into your routine
According to research, it’s easier to remember things that stand out, can easily be integrated with your existing knowledge base, or retrieved or used repeatedly. Taking your medications may not fall within any of those categories, but taking them at the same time you do other things is an excellent way to boost adherence. Combining medication routines with daily activities such as showering or brushing your teeth is a great way to create a new habit.
#3. Use an alarm or any alert device
It’s helpful to use a pillbox to keep medicines organized, but it’s equally important to take them at specific times of day. Use a smartphone, an alarm clock, or any device that can remind you or your loved that it’s time to take meds.
You can also use smartphone apps that help manage multiple medications with ease. Some even send notifications when it’s time for a refill. Meanwhile, a vibrating pill reminder is specially designed to set reminders to take one’s meds and is particularly useful to those who are hard of hearing.
#4. Store medications where they can easily be found
Certain meds need to be stored in special containers or at certain temperatures, e.g., in a cool dry place or refrigerated. Bathroom cabinets might not be the best place to store medicines that need to be stored at room temperature, as bathroom temperature tends to fluctuate between warm and cold. For such medicines, consider storing them on your nightstand or in the living or dining room.
#5. Regularly consult your doctor
Information about your medications, including their uses, the length of time before they take effect, side effects, and dosages may seem like a lot to remember. It can also be quite confusing to understand every single detail about one’s meds. Consulting a healthcare professional is a preferable way to address any doubts or questions.
If certain medications cause unexpected side effects like drowsiness or sleepiness, it would be much safer to consult a doctor rather than conduct research on one’s own. To avoid risks, contact healthcare providers for other matters, too, such as whether two medications cannot be taken as part of the same routine.
There are serious consequences to mismanaging psychotropic medications. Meridian Psychiatric Partners LLC’s prescribers provide prescriptions and thoroughly monitor patients’ use of psychotropic medications to achieve desired outcomes. Call us today to schedule an appointment.