The Holidays are upon us and it can be a busy time with lots of family and friends to catch up with, routines are disrupted, household chaos is common and the daily medications are too easily forgotten.
And all too often the common reason people don’t take their medication is because they simply forget. Taking medication can become so routine and usually associated with specific activities that you’re unsure whether you took your pill or not. This can be compared to other autopilot activities, like driving to work or the next thing after your breakfast would be taking your medication but when your routine is thrown into anything but routine, this can really change everything.
You also might confuse thinking about taking your medication with actually doing it, especially likely with repeated activities where we have a lot of memories of the task together.
With many medications there are also no immediate consequences or reaction. So you might not realize you even missed a dose. It may take a few days or weeks to notice a big difference.
Some people are ambivalent about taking medication. Due to judgment and misunderstanding, individuals with mental illness sometimes feel they should be able to ‘think’ their way out of their symptoms, and may feel ‘weak’ or guilty for ‘relying’ on a medication.
The goal of medication isn’t cure, but care. A reduction in a few of the more disturbing symptoms allows people to regain hope, quality of life and the ability to begin to incorporate behavioural changes that can be part of a lifelong process to improve overall well-being. In other words, medication is just one piece of a health and wellness plan that is vital to maintain routine.
Some Easy-to-remember Strategies for Taking Medication
It is advisable to always communicate with your doctor about any concerns, and work as a team with your prime carer.
Here are a few simple ideas for remembering to take your medication:
1. Use a pillbox
The best and easiest strategy is to put your medication in a weekly pillbox that has a compartment for each day. It doesn’t just visually remind you to take your medication but also prevents double doses. You may need a carer or family member to fill the pill box correctly and monitor it.
2. Take advantage of technology
If you’re usually plugged in, set up electronic reminders maybe an email or text alert to signal it’s time to take your medicine. If you are taking medication for a serious condition such as heart disease, you can use COD Medi Alert personalised medicine reminder service which reminds you to to take medication on time through phone calls, sms, whatsapp and email.
3. Combine with a daily task
Tie taking your medication with an activity you do every day, such as making coffee or brushing your teeth.
4. Set an alarm
Setting a daily alarm can be helpful, especially if the timing requirements for when you are supposed to take it tend to be tighter.
5. Break out of autopilot
Make it a point of noticing when you take your medication i.e. look at it in your hand, and tell yourself “I’m taking Tuesday’s pill now,” This makes it more likely that you will have a specific memory trace for today’s dose.
6. Keep your medication visible
As they say, “out of sight, out of mind.” So if you’re just starting your medication, leave it out in an easy-to-spot place.
7. Enlist some help if necessary
It can help to have a non-judgmental, positive person who understands your situation support you through treatment, like a carer that just pops in to ensure you have taken your medication. This person can help you remember to take your medicine or be there to give you a high-five after attending your appointment. It really can make a big difference and a relief for the family knowing that everything is going to be all right.