Ways to help you stick to your medication regimen

Taking your medications as prescribed by your doctor is important for maintaining your health; however, in many cases this is easier said than done.  Below are a few challenges that might keep you from achieving this goal and some tips on how you can overcome them:

1) CHALLENGE:  “I already feel better…” or “My medications are not working…” 

TIP:  Speak to your pharmacist to learn more about the importance of your medications and what to expect.  Understanding your medical condition, why you need medications, and how the medications work will help you stay on track with taking your medications.  For example, stopping an antibiotic when you start feeling better from an infection can result in you getting sick again.  In addition, you may not feel your blood pressure being lowered, but stopping a blood pressure medication could put you at risk of a heart attack or stroke.  Sometimes it may also take a while for some medications to start working. 

2) CHALLENGE:  “I have trouble remembering when to take my medications…”

TIP:  Ask your pharmacist about special packaging such as pill organizers and blister packs.  Try to link your dosing schedule with daily activities such as before or after meals and at bedtime.  Use an alarm, smartphone app, or enlist the help of family and friends to help remind you to take your medications. 

3) CHALLENGE:  “I forget to refill prescriptions and run out of medications…”

TIP:  Use a calendar or set an alarm on your phone.  Some pharmacies also now offer prescription refill reminder services to notify you, for example by phone or text, that you are due for a refill.  Remember to give yourself enough time to see your doctor if you need to, and order your refill before you run out of medications.  Speak to your local pharmacy to see what services they offer.

4) CHALLENGE:  “My medications cost too much…”

TIP:  Speak to your pharmacist if cost is an issue.  There may be other cheaper options such as generic versions, and if not, there may be alternative therapies that can be used that cost less.  Additionally, Ontario Drug Benefit and some manufacturers may offer programs or discount cards to help lower the costs of medications.

5) CHALLENGE:  “My drug regimen is very complicated…”

TIP:  Ask your pharmacist if there may be ways to simplify your medications.  Taking multiple medications at different times of the day can be a confusing and daunting task.  Some of your medications may be available as a combination product or in a form that only needs to be taken once or twice daily instead of three or four times a day.  Additionally your pharmacist can assess your medication list to see if there are some that are no longer necessary and can be stopped. 

Taking your medications can seem like a chore but not taking them can lead to serious consequences.  To make this task easier, speak to your pharmacist about any of the above barriers or other ones that are making it a challenge to stick to your medication regimen. Let your pharmacist help you manage your health and well-being!

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