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5 Tips: Helping Patients Remember Medications

May 19th, 2010 by – Marijke Durning

Is this a familiar scenario? Mrs. Smith goes to the doctor to discuss a problem. The nurse asks her what medications she is on. Mrs. Smith lists off the meds: “a pill to make me pee, one for diabetes, one for high blood pressure and two for, oh, I don’t remember now.” In the next office, Mr. Jones comes prepared for that question and hands over a list of medications – the problem is, the list only has the names of the drugs, not the dosages.

Both situations are frustrating for the nurse and doctor, and can be dangerous for the patient. But how can we help our patients remember when they have so many medications to take at so many different times? Here are five tips to help organize them.

Providing medication names:

1- When filling prescriptions, ask the pharmacist or the pharmacy technician for an extra label for each medication or a printout list. Advise the patient to keep these labels or the list in their wallet so when they have to tell someone what medications they take, they don’t only have the medication name, but the dosages and who filled the prescription.

2- If the patient is a gadget person, the list of medications and dosages can be programmed into their PDA or smart phone.

Remembering to take medications:

3- Set an alarm to go off whenever a medication is due. The alarm could be an old-fashioned oven alarm, a watch alarm, or a PDA.

4- If the patient doesn’t have to worry about small children or animals getting into their medications, it may be helpful to leave them in certain spots. For example, first morning medications could be by the toothbrush, while medications needing to be taken at meal times might be left by the cutlery drawer.

5- Use a pill box with the days and times or keep a medication calendar on the fridge or where you will see it regularly.

While these tips won’t guarantee success, they may help reduce mix-ups when visiting the doctor and improve compliance when it comes to taking the medications properly.

Do you have any tips to share? What about you personally? How do you remember to take your medications if you have any?

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Posted in Patient Interaction

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