As we grow older, we typically begin taking more and more medications to maintain our health. According to the American Association of Consultant Pharmacists, people ages 65 to 69 take an average of 15 prescriptions per year, and people ages 80 to 84 take an average of 18 prescriptions per year (source). That’s a lot of pills to keep track of! Use our medication management tips if you’re struggling to stay on top of your prescriptions.
Medication Management Tips
Create and maintain a list of your medications.
To start, you need to fully understand the situation. Perhaps with the help of your pharmacy, make a list of the medications you’re currently taking. Write down the name and strength of each drug as well as the instructions on how and when to take the drug.
Review your medications with your doctor and/or pharmacist.
Bring your list of medications with you to your primary care physician and/or pharmacy so that you can easily discuss them. It’s highly recommended that you choose and stick with one pharmacy so that your pharmacist can view and manage all of your prescriptions, getting a complete look at your medication schedule. Use this conversation to accomplish the following:
- Check for duplicate or unnecessary medications.
- Notify your doctor or pharmacist of any adverse side effects you’re experiencing.
- Ask if there are any foods, vitamins, or over-the-counter medications you should avoid (and make a note of them).
Group medications by their instructions.
Some medications should be taken first thing in the morning, while others should be consumed a few hours after eating. If all of your medications have similar instructions and can be taken at once, that’s wonderful. If not, group the medications so that you know which should be taken at which times of day.
In addition, note that when medications’ instructions specify they should be taken on an empty stomach, they typically mean one hour before eating or 3–4 hours after eating. And when a medication requires you to take it with food, you can swallow it in the midst of a full meal or just a light snack, such as fruit or crackers. If you have any questions about your prescriptions’ instructions, consult your pharmacist.
Use a labeled pill planner.
You’re likely aware of pill planners, which make it easy to know which pills you need to take and when. If you’re new to this convenient product, explore your options a bit until you find a pill planner that truly fits your needs. Here are some possibilities:
- Weekly pill planner (seven connected boxes, one for each day of the week)
- 4-a-day pill planner (28 boxes: one column for each day; one row for morning, noon, evening, and bedtime)
- Day and night pill planner (two connected boxes: one for day and one for night)
- Monthly pill planner (one box for each day)
Visit your pharmacy to explore the options available to you. If you don’t find one you like, search online for alternatives.
Use a phone alarm to remember your medications.
If you often forget to take your medications, create an alarm on your phone. When the alarm goes off, take your medication immediately. If you’re in the middle of something, hit “snooze” so that it will remind you again in a few minutes.
Pair your medications with your daily routine.
One of the best ways to make your medications an unforgettable part of your daily routine is to pair the act of taking them with an action you do every day, without fail. For example, you might wish to pair them with brushing your teeth, drinking a cup of coffee, or eating breakfast/lunch.
Finally, if you’re struggling to keep track of your pills and these medication management tips haven’t helped, don’t be afraid to ask for help. You could ask your doctor, pharmacist, caregiver, or a trusted family member or friend for help.
At Springhouse Village, we understand the importance of living a healthy, active lifestyle. That’s why we make it easy for our residents to be active participants in our community. Whether it’s encouraging our residents to enjoy the benefits of shopping at local farmers markets, providing places where they can practice and share their hobbies, or creating continuing education opportunities by connecting with local schools, we are continually striving to help our residents thrive. To learn more about the activities, amenities, and services we offer, contact Springhouse Village today.