Small tape recorders and some cell phones can be used to record instructions from your doctor on how to take your medicines. A recording can be particularly helpful for someone who has low vision or trouble reading, but it can also be useful and convenient for anyone who habitually carries a cell phone with him.
Also available are sophisticated pill dispensers that can be set to dispense medicines at specific times. Some pill dispensers will even alert caregivers and/or family members if doses of medicines are missed or skipped. Talk to your pharmacist or check out some of the Web sites listed on the “Resources” page for more information on electronic devices that may be useful for managing your medicines.
Most of this article has focused on self-management strategies and products to assist with medicine management, but there are services available for help, as well. While pillboxes can be a very valuable tool for managing medicines, the process of filling them may be tedious and even confusing for some people. Some pharmacies will fill pillboxes for a small fee, and some will even deliver them to your home. Other services, such as the one provided by www.aprexis.com (see “Resources”), can provide reminders to take your medicines and to refill prescriptions on time.
When you have questions
There are many resources available to help answer any questions you have about your medicines. It is always best to discuss your health and medicines with professionals who are familiar with you as an individual. Your doctor is, of course, a great resource for questions of a medical nature. But you can also discuss such issues as difficulty remembering to take medicines, difficulty affording them, or difficulty fitting them into your daily routine with your doctor. It may be possible for a prescription to be changed to one that requires fewer daily doses, costs less, or otherwise fits better with your schedule and lifestyle.
Another great resource for questions about taking medicines is your pharmacist. Particularly if you get all of your medicines from one pharmacy, your pharmacist should be familiar with your medical history and the medicines you take and can answer questions about them. Even a pharmacist who doesn’t know you personally can give you written information about the medicines you use (in large print, if necessary), check for drug interactions, and offer in-person or phone-based counseling.
If you cannot readily reach your doctor or pharmacist when a question about your medicines arises, a variety of consumer Web sites may be able to provide the information you need. Web sites such as www.iguard.org and www.aarp.org can act as a quick reference for basic drug information free of charge. Some Web sites can even perform drug interaction checks as well as help identify medicines based on their color, shape, and markings.
While these resources can be helpful, the information they provide may not always apply to you, specifically. It is important not to start, stop, or alter the way you take your medicines without first discussing such a change with a qualified health-care provider.