Reprinted and reformatted from WikiHow
With Additions by Bob Aronson
Have you just started a new medicinal regimen that requires you to take pills every day? Remembering to take your medication every day can be a chore, but it is also very important for your health. If you’re forgetful or simply have too many medications to track, then maybe this guide can help you remember to get the job done.
Start using a calendar. You can purchase a paper calendar and hang it in your room and teach yourself to look at it every day, making and leaving notes accordingly. 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 allow you to add notes and automatically send you reminders by email or by SMS (i.e. text messaging).
Set visual reminders.
- Put the medication close to something you need to deal with on a daily basis anyway. For example, if you take your medication in the morning, make sure that before going to bed at night, you place it next to the coffee pot, if you make coffee in the morning. Or, you can attach your medication bottle or pill box to your toothbrush with Velcro.
- Make it part of your routine. If you take it every morning, make it a habit to take it as soon as you step out of the shower, or as soon as you get out of bed.
- You can purchase sticky notes to leave in your kitchen, your car, or anywhere that you frequently visit. For medication that is stored in the fridge, you should paste a post-it note on the fridge door (or on your coffee pot) that says Take Pills.
- Remember medication that needs to be taken with a meal, by keeping it right on the table, in front of the place that you eat.
- If you are on your computer often, you might create a text file on your desktop that contains a list of things that you need to do. You can search the Internet for “electronic” sticky notes that you can place directly on your desktop, rather than purchasing paper ones. These programs will often allow you to set timers and reminders directly to the notes to flash or emit sounds accordingly.
- If you have a complex regimen, write a list with the medication, time and date and tape the list to the mirror in your bathroom. You can also print this on a grid and check off each medication after you take it.
- Set an auditory reminder. This is a common and fairly effective way to remind yourself to take your medicine. Most cell phones have an alarm function that allows you to set a “daily” alarm time where it rings. Choose a tone that will remind you that you need to take your medicine. If you do not own a cell phone, you might set your alarm clock to go off at a particular time each day for the same effect. Another alternative is to buy a digital watch and set the alarm to go off as many times per day as you need to take medication. A small digital kitchen timer with a numeric keyboard can be useful. Be sure to get one that can be set for hours, not just minutes and seconds. As soon as the alarm goes off, immediately take your medication to reinforce the habit. Saying “Oh, I’ll do it in a few minutes” can lead to repeated forgetfulness and defeat the purpose of having an alarm.
- Sort your medication. Place all your medications, including your daily dose of vitamins on your kitchen counter. As you take one pill, close the bottle, and place it to the left of the counter, making two piles. Do the same for each pill you take. Remember that the ones you need to take are in front of you. The ones you have already taken are to the left of you. After you are finished taking all your pills for the day, place all those on the left hand side back into the kitchen cabinet. Now you will know that all of your pills have been taken. Pre-sorting the pills into a plastic container designed for this purpose (a pill box or medicine box) is another way to avoid taking the same medication twice by accident. If that compartment is empty, you know you took the meds. Pill sorters come in different sizes and different colors. Aim to have enough to sort two weeks of meds at a time.
- Adopt a “divide and conquer” strategy. In other words, take half of your medicine and keep it in a place other than your household, such as your office at work. If you happen to forget to take your medicine in the morning, you can easily access your medicine at work.
- Be mindful of your medicine’s storing conditions, especially if you plan to keep your pills in your car’s glove box on a hot summer day.
- Get another person to remind you. Have a friend or loved one to remind you to take your medicine, or to ask you if you remembered to take your medicine.
- Use your phone calendar to set recurring reminders daily. It’s a more subtle way to be reminded. If you use your company phone/Outlook, make sure you mark the appointment as “private” and keep the reminder description generic to protect your privacy
Be careful when deciding on reminders. If you get too comfortable with them (such as a note on your fridge or by your pill box) you may be more likely to overlook it or ignore it.
- Not all medication is available or legal in all countries so you should check ahead. Any medication that may have a controlled substance may not be allowed in some countries so make sure you bring your prescription bottle and if possible a photocopy of your physician’s prescription.
- If you choose to set an alarm on your cell phone, be sure that it is a tone that you can easily associate with taking your medicine, so that you do not become too accustomed to hearing a soft tone. Or, if all else fails, set it to the same tone as your normal ring tone.
- Remember to take your medication with you when you go on holiday. When you pack your toothbrush, pack the medications you take also. IMPORTANT! NEVER CHECK MEDICATION WITH YOUR BAGGAGE. ALWAYS KEEP YOUR MEDS WITH YOU IN CASE YOUR BAGGAGE GETS LOST.
- If on vacation, pack your original, pharmacy-labeled medication bottles or keep a detailed list in your purse or wallet. I have attached a sample list to the end of this blog.
- Your meds list should also include critical medical information like insurance, physicians and clinics, and medical conditions. If it happens that you need emergency medical care, this will help the care providers to quickly determine what medications you take and how and why you take them, should you not be able to remember them or not speak for yourself. It is difficult, time-consuming and sometimes impossible for health care providers to identify unlabeled pills. For the same reason, do not dump different medications into the same bottle.
- Before you go on a long vacation, ask your doctor to give you an extra prescription for your pills, so that if you run out, lose them, or spill them, you can have the prescription filled at any drugstore.
- If you are taking medication for a serious condition such as heart disease, wear a Medical Alert tag, necklace or bracelet listing the name(s) of your illness and the medications you use to treat it/each. Also list any potentially hazardous interactions and allergies.
- If one or more of your medications causes photo sensitivity, be sure to put on sunscreen before leaving your house, no matter what it looks like outside; you’d be surprised how little light is required to get a full-blown sunburn!
- Be mindful of making a mental note to yourself when you take your medicine. Forgetting to take your medication is one thing, doubling your dosage because you forgot that you’d already taken your medication for today is another. You could make a box next to your “Remember Pills”-note, tick it off when you’ve taken it.
- If you do forget to take a dose, read the instructions that come with your medication carefully. Don’t assume that you should take your dose anyway- although this is the case for most, it can be different for others. If you have trouble reading, ask the pharmacist to explain the dosage directions.
- Before leaving the pharmacy, check to make sure that the pills in the bag are the pills that you use. Pharmacists make mistakes also.
- When leaving your medicine bottles around to remind you to take them, be careful if you have children so you do not leave the pills in a easy spot for a child to grab.
- Be aware that certain prescription medications have a high potential for addiction or abuse. If you find yourself taking more of a medication than prescribed, call your doctor immediately to talk about the change.
- Some medications, such as those classed as controlled substances, may not be appropriate to leave around the house. Place them in a locked cabinet, box or drawer, and do not move them from one building to the next. Try to not let others know that you are on such medications and avoid taking them in public. It’s not uncommon for people to steal certain medications, either to abuse themselves or to sell to others with similar intent.
- It’s a Federal offence to transfer a controlled substance to anyone other than the person to whom it was prescribed (you). If you do wind up victim of a theft, report it immediately to avoid potential prosecution.
- Some medications have ‘black box warnings’. This means that when taken incorrectly, or by those with certain conditions, fatalities may arise. Place these and other such medications in a safe location and call your doctor right away if you think you might have accidentally taken more than prescribed.
- Sometimes the pharmacist gives out a stranger’s prescriptions by accident, read the label carefully.
Sample Medical Info Sheet to Carry With You
HEART TRANSPLANT RECIPIENT
Best Hospital USA
Birth date 2-17-1950
9180 orchard lane anycity, USA
Home 555-555-5555 Cell phone 555-555-5555
SS # 555-55-5555 Spouse; Jane Doe; Cell phone 555-555-5555
Primary, Dr.Sawbones Anycity USA
Transplant Pulmonologist, Dr. Breatheasy best clinic USA
Transplant Cardiologists, Dr. Heartthump best clinic USA
Transplant Coordinator: Nurse Jane best clinic USA
Primary: Best Pharmacy USS
Secondary: Second best pharmacy USA
Primary – Medicare part A, Hospital, part B, Medical.
Secondary, AARP Medicare Supplement .
Medicare part D Prescriptions, AARP Medicare RxEnhanced
Allergies:Penicillin, cats, all seafood/fish, mold, dust.
Blood Type: B Positive
Heart related medications
- Anti-rejection Cyclosporine 200 mg twice a day
- Anti-rejection — Cellcept 1000 mg twice a day
- Anti-cholesterol — Prevastatin 20 mg once a day
- Blood Thinner – Aspirin 81 mg once a day
- Blood Pressure – Amlodipine Besylate 5 mg twice a day
- Reflux – Omeprozole (Prilosec) two 40 mg twice a day
- Thyroid — Levothyroxine .088 MG once a day (upon arising)
- Asthma – ProAir albuterol rescue inhaler as needed
- COPD – Foradilinhale one capsule twice a day
- COPD – Spiriva inhale one capsule once a day (upon arising)
- Depression-Remeron 7.5 -mg once a day-
Calcium – 600 mg tablet with Vitamin D twice a day
Multi-vitamin– one tablet once a day
- Asthma, hay fever, allergies diagnosed 1941
- COPD diagnosed October 2000
- Restless leg syndrome diagnosed 1996
- Chronic lower back pain
- Heart transplantBest Hospital
- Anywhere USA August 2007
- Cholecystectomy 1994
- Total left knee replacement 1998
Bob Aronson of Bob’s Newheart is a 2007 heart transplant recipient, the founder of Facebook’s nearly 2,500 member Organ Transplant Initiative and the author of most of these donation/transplantation blogs.
- You may comment in the space provided or email your thoughts to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. And – please spread the word about the immediate need for more organ donors. There is nothing you can do that is of greater importance. If you convince one person to be an organ and tissue donor you may save or positively affect over 60 lives. Some of those lives may be people you know and love.Please view our video “Thank You From the Bottom of my Donor’s heart” on http://www.organti.org This video was produced to promote organ donation so it is free and no permission is needed for its use.If you want to spread the word personally about organ donation, we have another PowerPoint slide show for your use free and without permission. Just go to http://www.organti.org and click on “Life Pass It On” on the left side of the screen and then just follow the directions. This is NOT a stand-alone show, it needs a presenter but is professionally produced and factually sound. If you decide to use the show I will send you a free copy of my e-book, “How to Get a Standing “O” that will help you with presentation skills. Just write to email@example.com and usually you will get a copy the same day.Also…there is more information on this blog site about other donation/transplantation issues. Additionally we would love to have you join our Facebook group, Organ Transplant Initiative The more members we get the greater our clout with decision makers.