Taking your medication as your doctor tells you to is one of the best ways to manage your health condition. However, there are many issues that can stop you from taking your medicines properly. When you don't take your medications properly, you will not get the full benefit from them.
The most important step to sticking with your medication plan is to talk to your doctor. He or she can tell you important information such as:
- The purpose of your medication
- When and how to take it
- How to prevent or reduce possible side effects
- Foods or other medications to avoid
- What you should do if you miss a dose
Many of the issues regarding medication adherence can be solved. Below is a list of the most common barriers and some helpful tips to overcome them.
If you don't think it's important to take your medication or you don't understand why you take it:
- Talk to your doctor about your medication at every visit. Make sure you understand how it will improve your health.
- Have all of your questions answered before leaving the doctor's office
- If you still don't take your medications as prescribed, ask yourself why
If you forget to take your medication:
- Keep a chart or diary of what you take and how often you take it
- Use a watch or alarm clock to remind you of doses
- Make a note on your calendar to order and pickup your refills at least three days before you're scheduled to run out
- Use a pill box and fill it at the beginning of the week
- Have a friend or family member remind you to stick to your schedule
If you have trouble getting to the pharmacy:
- If you can't get to your local pharmacy due to time or transportation, try a mail order pharmacy such as Pharmacy Advantage. For more details call HAP Client Services at (800) 422-4641.
If your medication is too costly:
- Ask for generic medications when possible. They are just as safe and effective as brand name. They also include the same ingredients.
- Maintenance medications can be filled for 90 days. This is usually a lower cost than getting a refill every 30 days.
- Call different pharmacies to compare prices
- Buy store brand or discounted over the counter medicines
- Look for coupons. You can ask your doctor or check the medication's Web site.
- Visit online medication cost assistance sites like:
If you are afraid of side effects:
- Talk to your doctor about possible side effects and how to prevent or reduce them
- Take your medication exactly how it's prescribed
- If you do experience side effects, do not stop taking your medicine without talking to your doctor first
If you take a lot of different medications:
- Talk to your doctor about simplifying your dosing options
- If you are convinced you shouldn't be on a certain medication, explain why you have these doubts to your doctor
- Use a pill box and organize it a week or two in advance
For more information about taking medications properly, visit one of these online resources: