The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Pill-Poppers

Clock with pills

Managing Medications Part V

To conclude this series we will explore what I consider to be the most critical of all the medication management topics: remembering to take your meds.

It’s all about reminders—remembering to carry and take meds, refill prescriptions, organize daily and weekly doses, bring spares, and the list goes on. I am a systems-oriented person and that helps me to create not just reminders, but complete systems to ensure that I don’t miss anything along the way. Here are some tips to consider for your personal routine:

  • Assuming you’ll remember is a bad idea. This is a universal rule for everything in life.
  • Do simple things to help remind yourself. For example:
    • Write things down or somehow record the information you need to remember.
    • I put a rubber band around the handle of a seldom-used door so when I check that it’s locked before bed it reminds me to take my night-time doses.
    • To remind myself to pick up a prescription refill I put an empty Rx bottle in the basket with my keys.
    • Think up another idea you can use as part of your routine. Right now. Do it.
  • Pair your med-taking with other periodic activities.
    • Think of things you do every day around the same time, such as making coffee, taking a shower, going out for the paper, going for a morning run or evening stroll, milking the cows, etc. Get in the habit of taking your meds just before or after one of these activities so they remind you of each other.
    •  Locate your meds near the supplies you use for another task or activity so you can do them together easily. This is especially handy for the special cases below.
  • Use tools to help (see previous post in this series for tool tips).
  • Always carry spare medications separately from your normal supply—just in case you forget your purse, brief case, travel kit, etc. Some meds aren’t friendly to waiting.
  • Double-up some of these tricks and others, to serve as back-ups for the primary methods.
  • Special cases: Since not all medications are pills you can swallow, you may have to create some unique methods for remembering these. Gels, creams, suppositories, injections, and other forms of medication are not typically compatible with pill organizers, they may need time to dry or absorb, and sometimes they require special supplies or some privacy to administer them. Try to design some strategies to ease the hassle or complexity of these more burdensome medicines.

Finally, and most importantly, come up with your own ideas. The ones I’ve provided here may be useful to you but they’re just ideas to get you started on building your own systems. The point here is to break out of your assumptions and foregone conclusions, and things you do without thinking about them. Be intentional, create and adapt solutions that work effectively for you. Managing your life with IBD includes many challenges. Medications can be among them but there are many things you can do to ease that burden. 

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Tags: Coping tools , Supplies/Accessories/Equipment , Tips ('How-Tos')

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About the Author

Andrew Tubesing is an acclaimed advocate and humorist on the subject of inflammatory bowel disease.