How can I remember to take my medicines?
It can be a challenge! And you’re not alone, either. Some 50 percent of people with chronic conditions don’t take all their medicines all the time. Fortunately, there are some simple ways to do better.
First, make a list of everything you take. You can print out a form here or make your own on paper or in your computer. For each, note the name and how much to take (the dosage); what it looks like; when you should take it (time of day, on an empty stomach, after meals); prescribing doctor; and anything else you need to know.
Once you have your list, keep a copy of it in your medical files and another near your medicines. This will help you fill your pillbox and set up reminders.
Helpful tips for remembering your medicines:
- You can set email reminders through Rally. Just click on the bell icon on this page.
- If you have a smartphone, you can set a recurring alarm or use apps to help remind you to take your pills. Apps can also help you track your doses.
- A simple alarm clock can also be a good daily reminder system.
- If you’re more of a paper person, you could put a chart or Post-its in places you’d see.
- It can help to take your pills at the same time each day and connect it to a daily activity, like before your morning coffee or after dinner.
Why is a pill box a good idea?
We bet you’ve wondered, “Did I take my pill today?”
Studies show that pill boxes can help you take your medicines more regularly. A see-through pillbox cuts out the guesswork – you can just look and see if you’ve taken your pills or not. Keeping your pillbox on your desk or dining table can also remind you to take your medicine at certain times, which could mean fewer missed pills.
And at the end of the week you can see at a glance how many pills you missed, and also see any patterns (like maybe you miss your pills more often on weekend afternoons when you’re out of the house). That way, you can set up better reminders for yourself.
What kind of pill box is best?
You’ll want the simplest one that fits your needs. You could ask your pharmacist to recommend something. Try it out and make sure you can read the writing on the box and that it’s easy to open and close.
If you only take pills once a day, then a weekly box with seven compartments is fine. If you take medicines twice or three times a day (or take some with meals and some on an empty stomach), look for the kind of pill box with additional am/pm or numbered compartments for each day.
You can find more complex ones with built-in alarms, but it’s unclear whether fancier ones work any better, and many people find them hard to program.
It’s also a good idea to fill a small pill box with a few of each of your pills and keep it in your purse or jacket pocket. That way you’ll have some on hand while you’re out of the house for longer than expected.
Zullig LL, Peterson ED, Bosworth HB. Ingredients of Successful Interventions to Improve Medication Adherence. Journal of the American Medical Association. December 25, 2013. [Link]
Defanti e Souza F and da Silva Santana C. A descriptive study about the use of pillboxes by older adults. Health. December 2013. [Link]