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Ways to Manage Your Medication

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Updated April 06, 2010

When you take a lot of different medications, keeping them organized can be difficult. Remembering names, why you need them, and how often you need to take the medications can be overwhelming.

Why Do I Need to Manage Medications?

When you take a lot of medication, errors can easily happen. This can range from missing a dose to overdose. Managing your medication effectively can help reduce potentially fatal errors.

How Do I Manage My Medications?

The key to successfully managing your medications is through organization. These organization tips will help ensure your medications are taken timely and safely.

1. Use a Daily Pill Organizer

A pill organizer can be very helpful if you take many types of medications each day. It has seven or more compartments that hold each day's worth of medication. To ensure medication is taken on a timely basis, keep a dosage schedule nearby that also includes a physical description of each pill, such as "blue capsule" or "large white pill."

If you have children, a pill organizer may not be an ideal way of organizing medication. Pills can be accidentally ingested or even disorganized, which can cause potential overdosing. Another drawback may be if you take a lot of medications that might not fit in each compartment.

2. Create a Dosing Schedule Chart

Another way to effective manage medication is to create a medication dosage schedule chart. This can be done on your computer with a spreadsheet or word processing program. List all medications, the times they need to be taken, and a space by each dose, so you can check off when each is taken. For those meds that are given "as needed," you may also want to include why it is taken. This can be annotated as "for nausea" or for whatever reason the medication is needed. If you have medications that require refrigeration, also note it.

3. Make a List of All Your Medications

Make a list of all medications you take, with the name, dosage, frequency, side effects, and whether the medication has been stopped. Also include any allergies you have to medications.

Make several copies and give them to doctors at appointments and to your pharmacist. Keep a copy stored on your computer so you can add to it if prescribed new medications, and print out more copies as needed.

4. Check Prescription Labels Often

When looking at prescription labels, check the expiration date and refill information. Properly discard old medication. When running low on a medication that has a refill, call your pharmacist before you run out. This way you will not miss any doses.

If you think you may need a refill on a medication that has no refills left, call your doctor's office as soon as possible to allow time for the doctor to call the pharmacist.

5. Use a Pill Reminder Gadget

There are several electronic pill reminders on the market of varying prices. You can input the name of the medication, how often you need to take it, and if you need to take it with food. An alarm will sound, much like an alarm clock or cell phone ringer, alerting you to what medication needs to be taken and how much. There are some electronic pill reminders that "talk," relaying information verbally.
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