Managing medications can be complicated, but it’s incredibly important. Use these tips to safeguard your health when taking prescription (and over-the-counter) medications:
- Take medication at the same time daily. Take medicines before/after another memorable activity. For instance, always take your medicine after brushing your teeth in the morning, or take it with breakfast or lunch, if instructed.
- Set alarms on your phone or mobile device.
- Mark your calendar each day, right after taking your pills.
- List all prescription and over-the-counter medicines. Have the list with you when visiting doctors, hospitals, and pharmacies. Each professional can check for interactions at every appointment.
- Know why you’re taking each medication. Learn which side effects are common and which are more serious, requiring a call to your doctor. Find out what you should do if you accidentally miss a dose. Ask questions until you understand completely. If you don’t have the medication insert handy, check the FDA website for medication guides.
- Fill all prescriptions at one pharmacy, so your pharmacist can check for dangerous drug interactions.
- Check pills when you pick them up: Make sure you receive the usual and correct dosage by reading the bottle label and looking at the pills. Question your pharmacist or call your doctor if the pill looks different than before.
- Mind your foods, beverages and supplements. You may need to take medicines with food or on an empty stomach. You may also need to avoid certain foods and beverages. For instance, green tea interacts with a number of medications.
- Keep up your appetite. Let your doctor know if medicine consistently causes nausea or ruins your appetite. Everybody needs a nutritious diet.
- Take care if you get drowsy. Ask your doctor whether any activities (like driving) should be restricted. Ask if you should take prescriptions that cause drowsiness at night before going to bed instead of in the daytime.
- Store medications properly. Those color-coded, daily medication storage boxes can be helpful, but be aware of medications that have to be refrigerated or kept away from light. Always keep medication out of = reach of children, pets, and anyone who might take them by accident.
- Keep emergency numbers in sight. If you think you or a loved one may have overdosed on a prescription drug, call 911 or Poison Help at 1-800-222-1222.
If you need help keeping track of your medications, let your doctor or a loved one know. They can help arrange services that can check up on you and provide medication assistance in your home. If you are a caregiver and wish to learn practical tips to help your loved one live safely at home, check out FSL’s caregiving education series.