7 Tips for Managing Your Medications
As we age, we’re often prescribed multiple medications. And it’s easy to get confused which ones to take, how many, and how often. Follow these simple tips to help you better manage your medications—so they can help you feel your best.
1. Remember: take your meds! There are many ways to help remind you to take your meds. For instance, get into a routine by taking your medications when you wake up, at meal times, etc. Use a chart or calendar as visual reminders. Daily/weekly/monthly pill organizers also can help. There are even services that will call or text you when it’s time to take your next dose.
2. Take your meds exactly as instructed. If you have any questions or simply don't understand, ask your doctor or pharmacist. They want to help. Varying from the prescribed dose or frequency of your medications can be unsafe.
3. Organize your medications. Create and update a list of all your over-the-counter and prescription medications and share it with your healthcare team. Plus, store all your prescriptions in a file you can refer to if you ever have questions about dosage or side effects.
4. Try to use one pharmacy. If possible, have all of your medications filled at the same pharmacy. That way, your pharmacist can track them all and alert you about possible drug interactions.
5. Know the side effects of your medications. You’ll be aware of any health changes that may occur if you start a new medication or combination of medications. If you notice changes, contact your physician right away.
6. Talk, tell, ask! If you have any questions about your medications, talk to your healthcare provider. If you are noticing side effects, immediately tell your healthcare provider. If you are concerned about a prescription or a diagnosis, be sure to ask for a second opinion.
7. Safely store and dispose your medications. Store your meds in a dark, cool, dry place, such as a kitchen cabinet (but out of reach of children). Refrigerate drugs only when the label tells you to.
If your meds have passed their expiration date, or have changed odor or color, they need to be disposed. But don’t flush them down the toilet or pour them down the sink since unused drugs can be an environmental health hazard. Speak with your healthcare professional about the best way to dispose of them.
Medications only work if you take them as instructed by your healthcare provider. So be sure to follow these simple tips to help you get the most benefit from them.