Medicines - tips to remember to take them

Remembering to take your medication regularly can be difficult. Here are a few tips that may help you remember:

Mark the calendar

  • Marking the date on the calendar once you have taken your medication for that day can be helpful.  If you need to take medication two or three times in a day, then you can put a tick or mark the date two or three times.
  • Marking the calendar may also be useful for medication that needs to be taken at odd intervals such as two times a week, or once a week, or once a month.

Make a wall chart

Making a wall chart can be a helpful aid to remember to take your medication. The wall chart should contain information such as, the name of your medicine, the dose to be taken and the time of day you need to take it.

Set an alarm

Setting an alarm clock to remind you that your medication needs to be taken at a particular time each day, also works well for some people.

Use a phone application

  • If you have a smart phone, there are a number of apps that can send you a reminder to take your medication, and you can record when you have taken your dose.
  • In a recent review of 160 medication adherence apps, MyMedSchedule, MyMeds, and RxmindMe rated the highest "because of their basic medication reminder features coupled with their enhanced levels of functionality." All three are available for both iphone and android.

Use a pillbox

Pharmacies and supermarkets sell plastic pillboxes. Some are labelled with the days of the week and the times of the day. To help you keep track, fill the pillbox at the beginning of the week. If you are unsure, you can ask a family member or nurse to check that you have filled it correctly.

Ask for compliance packaging from your pharmacy

Many pharmacies offer a compliance packaging service where your medication can be packaged into blister packs or rolls of sachets.

  • Blister packs

    • undefinedA blister pack can be described as rows of little plastic pockets that house the capsules or tablets, over which a foil backing is placed.
    • The foil backing has details of the medication name, the dose and the time e.g. breakfast, lunch, dinner or bedtime, and the day of the week.
    • Blister packs are available as weekly or monthly packs - discuss with your pharmacist which option is best for you.
    • Some blister packs have a tear-off feature so that you can tear-off a strip on a day or a dose - very useful for an outing, so that you don't forget your dose.
  • Sachet rolls

    • Some pharmacies offer an alternative to blister packs , where tablets or capsules are housed in plastic pockets or sachets.
    • The sachet has details of the medication name, dose and dose time imprinted on it.

Other useful tips:

  • Make a habit or routine out of taking your medicine - like you would remember to brush your teeth or eat dinner.
  • If you find your current schedule of taking medication is not working, chat to your doctor or pharmacist for suggestions on how this may be improved.
  • If you have a change to your regular routine, then you are at increased risk of forgetting to take your medication, e.g. when you're on holiday have a plan or strategy in place and prompts that will remind you.

References

  1. Dayer, L. Heldenbrand, S. et al. Smartphone medication adherence apps: Potential benefits to patients and providers . J Am Pharm Assoc (2003). 2013 ; 53(2): 172–181. doi:10.1331/JAPhA.2013.12202. (full article)
Credits: Sandra Ponen, Pharmacist. Reviewed by Dr J Bycroft Oct 2014.