Following an illness, a visit to your doctor, and getting a prescription are not enough to treat it. You need to take your medications on time, and that is where many patients falter. Women are more likely to miss keeping up with their prescription, over-the-counter, medicines and other supplements. Disproportionate familial responsibilities, pay gap, and differences in social roles are a few reasons why women are more non-adherent compared to men. But, do not worry! Here are a few tried and tested techniques for you to score high on the adherence meter. Let us begin.
- Calendar alerts
You can use a paper or a digital calendar to set reminders or mark doses that you take every day. The paper method is particularly useful for elder women who are not too tech-savvy. Keep the paper or diary (a better option as you might lose a page) near your bed, on a table, or anywhere you are likely to spend most of your time. If you are using a cell phone, move the calendar app onto your home screen so that you can get a mental nudge to take your medicine every time you unlock your phone screen. Remember to mark the dose by dose details regularly.
2. mHealth apps
You can download a feminine health app to track your medication. It is a convenient medication reminder tool for anyone who carries a mobile phone. Look for the following features while choosing a medication reminder app for women.
· It allows you to record the complete list of all your medications.
· Prescription refill reminders
· Number of missed days and frequency of missing doses
· Easy access to information about your medicine online.
· A personal notes widget
· Visual cues included in medication reminders
· A user-friendly interface
3. Let daily chores be your medication reminders
Daily activities include brushing your teeth, drinking water and eating at different intervals, cleaning, caregiving, commuting, and completing office tasks. You can select a few and start taking your drug doses before or after these activities. Here, you also need to consider your doctor’s instructions on when and how to take medicines. For example, you must not take medicine before breakfast if it should be taken after eating something.
- Ensure visibility
Do not keep your medicines tucked away in drawers or almirahs. Keep them in easy-to-see places so that visibility works as a visual reminder for you. If you need to store your medicines in a refrigerator, put sticky notes as reminders on its door. Keeping medications away from toddlers and pets is a major concern. Use a pillbox with a lock and timer to solve this issue. It is a convenient way to organize your pills and nutraceuticals in one place. Besides safety and organization, these are an effective tool to help you if you take multiple medications daily at different times. Pillboxes are portable and easily fit into handbags or travel bags. However, do not share pillboxes or any other medicine storage pouch or container. It can cause confusion and mistakes that can be life-threatening.
Refrain from leaving your medicine box in a hot environment; for example, your car or a medicine cabinet in a steamy bathroom. Room temperature helps maintain the stability of most medicines. Alternatively, extreme temperatures cause them to lose their potency, melt or crumble. Be extra cautious about storage if you take extremely addictive or habit-forming medicines such as opioids.
- Ask and offer help to friends and family members
In many families, more than one member takes medicines. You can make a team and remind each other to take doses. If you live alone, ask your family member or a friend to text you or give a missed call as a medication reminder. You can also stick notes to help each other take medicines on time. To help an elderly family member, write legibly (use bigger font) on these chits. The information should include the name of the medicine, doses, and when and how to take it. Put these somewhere they can see and refer to easily. Aged patients or those managing chronic conditions may find taking the medication regularly cumbersome and tiring. Consider getting a little creative with medication reminder sticky notes and include motivational quotes or little notes showing love and care. You can also consider calling your loved ones to remind them about taking medicines.
- Ask for a simplified medication regimen
You can ask your doctor to simplify your medicine schedule. For example, if you need to take medicines twice a day, your healthcare provider can possibly find a similar suitable drug that needs to be taken only once daily. If you find it hard to keep doses apart (which helps prevent drug interactions), speak to your doctor. They might be able to prescribe medicines that do not cause an interaction. To limit multiple doses, your doctor or pharmacist can also prescribe medications you can safely take simultaneously. If you think that the timing of medication is hard to keep up with because of your routine, try to manage your day better. There are hardly any tasks that should matter more than your health and well-being. Ask your doctor to prescribe a medication regimen that is easy to integrate into your daily schedule.
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- Update the list of your medication names, strengths, doses, and refills
If you take medicines for two or more health issues, create a list of all your medication specifics. You can make this list on paper or online. Add information including strength, doses, and monthly requirement of each medicine, as prescribed by your doctor. This list can come in handy when you need to take stock of the medicine schedule and the quantity left. Besides, it is an extremely useful piece of information your doctor can refer to during an emergency situation. Ensure mentioning when did your treatment begin and the schedule of each medication. It includes prescription medicines, OTC drugs, multivitamins, protein supplements, and herbal nutraceuticals too.
Medicine adherence takes some effort, but your health is worth all of it and more.
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