The goal of Parkinson’s treatment is to relieve symptoms and prevent your condition from getting worse. Levodopa-carbidopa and other Parkinson’s medications can control your disease, but only if you follow the treatment plan your doctor prescribed.

Treating Parkinson’s isn’t as simple as taking one pill a day. You may need to try a few drugs at different doses before you see an improvement. If you start to experience “wearing off” periods and your symptoms come back, you might have to switch to a new drug or take your medication more often.

Sticking to your treatment schedule is important. Your medications will work best when you take them on time.

In the early stages of Parkinson’s, missing a dose or taking it later than scheduled might not be a big deal. But as the disease progresses, your medication will start to wear off, and you could develop symptoms again if you don’t take the next dose on time.

Considering how complicated Parkinson’s treatment can be, many people with the condition have a hard time keeping up with their medication schedule. By skipping doses or not taking your medication at all, you risk having your symptoms come back or get worse.

Follow these tips to stay on top of your Parkinson’s medication schedule.

You’ll be more likely to stick to your treatment plan if you understand it. Whenever you get a new prescription, ask your doctor these questions:

  • What is this drug?
  • How does it work?
  • How will it help my Parkinson’s symptoms?
  • How much should I take?
  • At what time(s) should I take it?
  • Should I take it with food, or on an empty stomach?
  • What medications or foods could interact with it?
  • What side effects might it cause?
  • What should I do if I have side effects?
  • What should I do if I miss a dose?
  • When should I call you?

Ask the doctor if you can simplify your medication routine. For example, you might be able to take fewer pills each day. Or, you might use a patch instead of a pill for some of your medications.

Let your doctor know right away if you have any side effects or problems from your treatment. Unpleasant side effects are one reason people stop taking the medication they need.

Use the same pharmacy to fill all your prescriptions. Not only will this streamline the refill process, but it will also give your pharmacist a record of everything you take. Your pharmacist can then flag any possible interactions.

With the help of your doctor and pharmacist, keep an up-to-date list of all the medications you take, including ones you buy over the counter. Note the dose of each drug, and when you take it.

Keep the list on your smartphone. Or, write it down on a small notepad and carry it in your purse or wallet.

Review your medication list periodically so it’s up to date. Also, make sure to check if drugs interact with one another. Bring the list with you whenever you see a doctor.

A pill dispenser separates your medications by day and time of day to keep you organized and on schedule. Automatic pill dispensers take it one step further by releasing your medication at just the right time.

Higher tech pill dispensers sync up with a smartphone app. Your phone will send you a notification or sound an alarm when it’s time to take your pills.

Use the alarm function on your cell phone or watch to remind you when it’s time to take the next dose. Choose a ringtone that will get your attention.

When your alarm rings, don’t switch it off. You may become preoccupied and forget. Go into the bathroom (or wherever you keep your pills) right away and take your medication. Then, shut off the alarm.

Many pharmacies will automatically refill your prescriptions and call you when they’re ready. If you prefer to handle your refills, call the pharmacy at least a week before your medication runs out to make sure you have enough.

Sticking to your Parkinson’s treatment can be a challenge, but tools like drug dispensers, auto refills, and alarm apps on your smartphone can make medication management easier. Speak with your doctor and pharmacist if you have any trouble with your treatment plan.

If you have side effects or your medication doesn’t relieve your symptoms, don’t stop taking it. Talk to your doctor about other options. Stopping your medication abruptly could cause your symptoms to return.