People have health conditions that need to be treated with a lot of medicine. Sometimes it can be hard to keep it all straight. You might take the wrong pill, take the wrong dose, or forget to take them altogether. This is why it’s important to organize your medicines.
Path to improved health
The best method for organizing your medicines is whatever method works best for you. Here are some options you can try.
Color code your medicine bottles
If you like to keep your medicines in their original bottles, color code them. Mark all the medicines you take in the morning with a red mark. Put a green mark on the bottles of medicines you take at lunch. Mark dinnertime medicines with blue, and put an orange mark on those you take at bedtime.
Buy a pill organizer
Pill organizers are an easy and efficient way to organize your medicines. You can buy them at most pharmacies or big-box stores. There are many kinds available, and they are usually inexpensive.
Think about these things when choosing your pill organizer:
- How often do you want to organize your pills? Organizers come in 7-day, 14-day, and 28-day sizes.
- How often do you take medicine during the day? Different organizers have separate compartments for pills taken once a day up to 4 times a day.
- What kind is the easiest for you to use? Different styles can be harder to handle or get open.
Try an automatic pill dispenser
These can be purchased online and at some stores. They are battery-operated devices that can automatically dispense your pills, up to 4 times a day. They also have a light and an alarm that will remind you to take your medicine. Some kinds hold 7 days’ worth of pills, while some hold up to 28 days’ worth.
Create a medicine record
Make a chart that you can use to record your medicines. Then you can check off each prescription after you take it. This is also a good way to keep all of your information on your medicines in one place. This can be especially helpful when you go to the doctor. You’ll have a record of what you’ve taken and if there were any side effects or concerns.
On your chart, include:
- name of medicine
- what it’s for
- time of day taken
- side effects
- when it needs to be refilled
Don’t forget to include any vitamins, herbs, supplements, or over-the-counter medicines you take.
You can use technology as much or as little as you’re comfortable with. You could maintain your medicine record using a spreadsheet. This could make it easier to update or make changes. If you need it on paper, you could print it off and physically mark off each prescription as you take it.
If you’re comfortable with technology, you can try an app. There are many apps available, including multiple free ones, that help you manage your medicines. Apps can help you look up information about a medicine. They also can help you set up your schedule and remind you when it’s time to take your pills.
Things to consider
When you’re taking multiple medicines, it’s important to use a regular doctor and pharmacist. You’ll be more comfortable talking to people you know. Plus, they will be familiar with your medicines. They will be better able to tell if there are any problems with taking the different medicines together.
When to call your doctor
You may have questions when you’re trying to organize your medicines. Call your doctor if:
- You don’t know what to do after missing a dose.
- You have trouble remembering to take your medicines.
- It’s hard for you to take so many medicines. Your doctor might be able to make changes to reduce the numbers of pills you have to take. Never make these kinds of changes without talking to your doctor.
Notes for caregivers
If you are a caregiver, organizing medicines is key to keeping your loved one healthy. Tracking their medicines, administering them, and making sure you don’t run out can be overwhelming. Make sure you make a chart of all of their medicines. This will help you keep all the details straight. Then you can use one of the other methods to keep track of the dosages and pills themselves. Find the method that works best for you. Talk to your loved one’s doctor if you’re having trouble keeping up.
Questions to ask your doctor
- What method will be best for managing my medicines?
- I keep forgetting to take my medicines. What should I do?
- Is there any way to reduce the number of medicines I need to take?
Copyright © American Academy of Family Physicians
This information provides a general overview and may not apply to everyone. Talk to your family doctor to find out if this information applies to you and to get more information on this subject.