hands of senior woman taking pills

Medication adherence refers to whether or not patients are taking and continue to take their medications as prescribed. Not following the drug schedule from your doctor may lead to additional office and emergency room visits and hospitalizations.

Reasons why patients don’t follow their medication schedule:

  • Forget
  • Cost of medications
  • Think medication is not needed
  • Hard to keep up with multiple medications
  • Not understanding when or how to take the medication
  • Side effects of the medication

Talk to your doctor about improving your medication adherence.

  • If a medication costs too much, there may be a less expensive drug that will work just as well for you. Ask your doctor for a recommendation.
  • If a medication is causing side effects, ask your doctor about when you should take the drug. The doctor may also change your medicine to a different prescription.
  • If you think that a medication is not needed, ask your doctor why it was prescribed and how it helps you.

For most people, remembering to take a medication can be hard. Here are five steps to help you.

  1. Use a daily routine to help tell you when to take your medication – mealtime, wake-up, before bed or before exercise.
  2. Keep a list of your medications and when you take them so you have something to help you remember. Doing so will also create a convenient list of your medications if your doctor ever needs one.
  3. Put your medications into pill boxes that separate medicines by day of the week or time of day. There are several types for different needs.
  4. Using a mail order pharmacy can improve your adherence. The pharmacy will call your doctor for refills and schedule refill deliveries with you to make sure you never run out of medicine. A mail order service may also save you money.
  5. Almost every pharmacy offers refill reminders to make sure you get your medicine filled. You will get a reminder by phone call, text message or email. Be sure to tell your pharmacy that you want to be part of this program.
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