Recent studies have found that Americans are taking more prescription drugs than ever before. 55% of American adults use prescription medication and on average are prescribed four different medications at any given time.
Taking medications as directed by our doctors is important to staying healthy. But when you have multiple, it can be difficult to remember when you need to take them (and if you already have).
Fortunately, there are a few different methods that make our prescriptions more manageable and keep us on schedule!
Read on to find out how to optimize your prescription taking, from medication calendars to pill dispensers to regular check-ins with your doctor.
Tons of free templates for medication calendars can be found online. Simply pick the one that appeals most to your style of organization, print it out, and fill in the columns!
Most medication calendars have columns for your medication, the proper dosage, special notes, and each day of the week. Why is this helpful?
Some medications are meant to be taken every other day, rather than daily. Some are meant to be taken on an empty stomach while others should only be taken with food. Medication calendars are a great way to keep track of all of these particularities so that you know exactly what, when, and how much to take each day of the week.
They especially come in handy if you are in the process of introducing a new medication into your system or weaning off of one. With a slot for proper dosage, you can remind yourself to raise or lower your dosage over time.
Fill out a medication calendar and put it somewhere you’re sure to see it, like the bathroom or kitchen. You can even check days off as you go so that you know, at the end of each week, that you followed your medication regimen every day.
Pill dispensers are small plastic containers with individually accessible compartments for each day. Most have a compartment for each day of one week, although some are designed to hold your medication for an entire month. They can be found at most regular drug stores.
Pill dispensers encourage you to sit down once a week and mindfully organize your medications. Every other day of the week, you just need to remember to take everything in that day’s compartment.
Pill dispensers may not be a good solution for people who need to remember to take certain pills at certain times. If you aren’t allowed to take all of your medications at the same time, you shouldn’t remove them from their labeled bottles until it’s time to take them.
Talk to Your Doctor Regularly
If you’re taking multiple medications, you need to make sure your doctor is monitoring your dosages and even your over-the-counter medications. At least once a year, schedule an appointment with your doctor and bring in everything, including OTC and supplementary drugs, in for their review.
Your body changes over time and the way it interacts with certain medications may change along with it. Your doctor may want to increase or decrease your dosages or take you off certain medications altogether.
Plus, even OTC drugs can interact negatively with prescriptions. If you take any OTC drugs regularly and haven’t already discussed them with your doctor, now is the time to make sure that it is okay for you to do so.
Get Everything From One Pharmacy
Pharmacists are also great resources for keeping track of what you take and what the side effects of your medications may be. They can also help to ensure that your various prescriptions are safe to take together. Plus, you’re much less likely to forget to get all of your refills if they’re all coming from the same place.
If you take more than one prescription and have specific needs that regular pharmacies have a hard time meeting, consider switching to a compounding pharmacy. Compounding pharmacies can customize dosages, create your medications without using ingredients you’re allergic to, and even provide you with medications that are currently hard to find.
Don’t wait until the last minute to get refills on one or all of your prescriptions. Talk to your doctor and pharmacist about setting up a schedule that allows you to pick up your refills early.
Why? Because many medications require your body to adjust to them. Suddenly stopping and starting again can cause health complications or worsening side effects.
Picking up your refills early will keep you ahead of the curve and help you stay on track with taking the right prescriptions every day.
Know Your Labels and Keep Track of Expiration Dates
Even if you do organize your prescriptions into a pill dispenser every week, make sure you’re very familiar with the labels on your prescription medications.
Not only will this help you to avoid mix-ups between medications of a similar appearance, but it will also help you to keep track of valuable information. Your medication labels will include recommended dosage, warnings, and expiration dates.
Don’t continue to take medication after it has expired. Bring it to your doctor’s office so that they can properly dispose of it and write you a new prescription. Even if expired medication isn’t dangerous to take, it isn’t as potent, meaning that you are no longer taking the correct amount.
Build Healthy Habits
Getting used to taking your prescriptions on time is like building any other habit. Be mindful of what you’re taking and when, reward yourself for sticking to a new routine, and eventually you’ll get used to it!
Using tools like medication calendars and pill dispensers is a great way to get used to this new routine. Experiment with different methods and figure out which ones work best for you.
For more useful tips and trivia, check out the rest of our website! We scour the internet for the most interesting stories to bring them all to one place for your convenience.