Americans are no stranger to taking prescription medications. The average medicine cabinet reads like a very intimate biography of the various health conditions that one has dealt with through the years. The Mayo Clinic reports that 70% of Americans take at least one prescription medication and that 50% of people take two drugs daily. And naturally as people age and deal with more complex health conditions, it comes as no surprise that 20% of Americans are managing to take 5 pills daily. And as you look through your own collection of pill bottles, you may even feel overwhelmed with questions such as, “How can I remember to take all of these as the doctor has ordered?”, “What about meds that have expired?” This first part of a two-part series explains the answer to that first question, “How can I remember to take my medications as my doctor has ordered and what tricks can I use to keep my medications organized?”
Staying Organized While Managing Multiple Prescription Medications
If you are one of those Americans taking 5 or more pills a day, you no doubt are very welcome to the idea of getting organized. The following are tips to help you stay organized.
1. Make a List and Keep it Current
Keep a current, up-to-date list of all non-prescription and prescription medications that you are taking. Ideally, you can either keep this log in a computer spreadsheet that allows for easy updating and deletion of medications you are no longer taking. If keeping a computer log is not possible, you should have a dedicated notebook for this purpose. Important columns of information that you should include are:
- The date your medication was prescribed by your doctor.
- The name of the doctor who prescribed your medication.
- The name of your medication.
- The dose of your medication that you are required to take.
- How many times a day you are required to take your medication.
- The time(s) of day you are required to take your medication.
- The health condition that your medication has been prescribed for.
Having such a concise list will not only help you to stay organized, but will also help your family members or health aides who are assisting with your care.
2. How to Fill Your Pillbox
A pillbox is an excellent way to stay organized and ensures that you are taking all the pills that are prescribed for a given day. The beauty of the pillbox is that if you have a question of whether or not you took a pill, you can look back at the pillbox and see if there are any pills that were forgotten.
3. Using a Calendar to Keep Track of Your Medication Schedule
Another way of staying organized is by keeping a small calendar handy, perhaps at your breakfast table. As you take your pills, you can make a note of this on your calendar for the given day and even notate the time it was taken. Even better, you could write the name of each medication in every day’s slot at the beginning of the month. Then, as you take your medications each day, you can jot down a checkmark to signify that you did indeed take your pill.
Staying organized requires forethought and effort but is worth the peace of mind it brings. Perhaps you still have questions such as, how to keep track of expired prescription medications and what you should do if you have trouble swallowing pills? The next article in this series will address those questions.
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