Medication Compliance Tips: Keep it “routine” for best Adherence
You need to take your meds, and each one of them comes with a set of requirements. But once you have more than a few medications, it can be pretty tough to stick to the proper medication schedule. Luckily here are a few relatively simple tips that have helped many patients handle complex medication schedules, and they are based on the idea that keeping it routine will help minimize how much you have to remember in order to stay on schedule:
- Routine dosing schedules are the easiest to manage and stick to. The body does better when it receives the drug at the same time/s every day. This helps avoid “peaks and valleys” in blood levels. So if you can get your medication schedule in synch with your other daily routines, it will be easier to stay compliant with your schedule. Not sure how to do this? Ask your doctor or pharmacist. Just tell them you want to adjust your medication schedule to match your daily routine, and could use some advice. Be prepared to describe that daily routine, so your doctor or pharmacist can help you simplify your routine to make it easier for you to remember to take your medications.
- Some drugs must be taken with meals, and are fairly easy to remember as long as you routinely eat 3 meals a day. If you eat out frequently, it’s important to have those mid-day or early evening doses with you in the restaurant. Small snack-sized zip-plastic bags work well for this. You never forget your keys, so why not associate your medications with your keys (or cellphone)? Associations like that make it easier to remember.
- If several drugs are taken at the same times each day, it’s much easier if you have everything ready beforehand. Set up a 7-day pill box in advance, for each dosing time. Count the number of pills just before swallowing, to be sure you have everything you’re supposed to take. Again, we are just making it more routine, so there is less to remember at medication time.
- It’s OK to swallow several pills at a time with a large gulp of water. Sometimes people think they have to swallow each pill individually with a sip of water. This is not necessary unless you have trouble swallowing. This additional amount of water may cause a loss of appetite. After a few trials you will find a comfortable routine way to swallow your pills, and from then on follow that routine to make it easy to do. If you have trouble swallowing pills, it helps to think only of the water, and to toss your head back while swallowing. This straightens and opens your throat so the pills have the largest passageway. Some people like to remember a positive experience or make a wish as they throw back the head and swallow “bottoms up”.
Your medications help you live better and live longer. For as long as they are an important part of your life, we should try and incorporate them into our daily routine just like sleeping, eating, and brushing your teeth. You have a toothbrush next to your sink, another in a travel kit for when you leave home, and the world is full of hotels ready to accommodate your need for sleep, and restaurants eager to feed your hunger. Your medications are no less important, yet the world still has to catch up on the convenience factor for medications. That means it is up to you, with the help of your family, doctors, and pharmacists to try and make it as routine and easy as possible. Keep it routine, for best adherance.
Editor’s Note: OnCellRx is a cell phone reminder service that alerts you when it is time to take your medications. For many who never leave home without the safety of their cell phone, this may be an ideal way to bring your medication schedules into your daily routine.