Why is Taking Your Medication Important?
Your healthcare provider’s reminder to stay on a regular schedule with your medications is more than just a routine sign-off. Although this brief might seem unnecessary, medication adherence can have severe consequences. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), upwards of 50% of medication isn’t taken as prescribed by patients. Although not as common as medication non-adherence, research also shows that around 5% of people entirely abandon prescriptions after taking them a few times – and some even go unfilled.
But what are the risks and benefits of medication adherence? And, more importantly, how can you start implementing changes to better stick to a health routine that increases your chances of improving your health, not the risk of worsening it?
While forgetting one of your pills in the morning before you head out for work may seem like no big deal, making a habit of it can have significant health consequences. Data from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the late 1990s shows that medication non-adherence causes an estimated 125,000 deaths in the U.S. Sadly, recent reports show this statistic hasn’t changed much and isn’t predicted to in the future. A 2020 report from the West Health Policy Center describes the potential for over 1 million deaths of Medicare patients across the next decade simply from not taking medication as prescribed.
Altering your medication routine also puts you at a higher risk for other health complications. For chronic conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure (hypertension), inconsistent meds could lead to a spike in your blood sugar or blood pressure – leading to uncomfortable symptoms like headaches or something more severe like cardiovascular trouble or an increased chance of having a stroke.
Not taking medications as prescribed for mental health conditions like bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, depression, or anxiety may make symptoms worse, more erratic, or even lead to a risk of suicidal thoughts.
Why It’s Easy to Forget Your Medication
Maintaining a regular medication routine isn’t easy for some people. Between the reality of rising prescription costs, complex medical routines, balancing multiple medications at once, and side effects, it’s challenging to follow your doctor’s recommendations. Older adults are more likely to have difficulty with a medication routine, especially those who struggle with memory problems or have a cognitive impairment. All this can lead to a lack of motivation or interest, and reasonably so.
6 Tips to Help You Take Your Medicine
Medication adherence doesn’t only refer to taking your medication. Sticking to the dosage, schedule, and lifestyle changes your doctor recommends are also important. Here are six tips to help you remember to take your medication as prescribed.
- Talk with your provider and insurance company about the price of your prescriptions. Every policy is different, so knowing your copay before you pick it up at the pharmacy can save you the frustration of leaving empty-handed due to cost. Doing this beforehand also might help you find generic medications or coupons to help reduce the price.
- Set a routine, write it down, and put it somewhere where you’ll look at it daily.
- Use a pill container. If you take multiple medications at different times, get one with separate sections for morning, midday, and night.
- Always bring extra medication with you when you’re traveling or away from home.
- Pair your medication times with an activity to help trigger your memory, like mealtime. However, you should always check if your medication requires food.
- Meet with your provider to discuss any concerns or questions about your medication.
If you’re looking for a new mental health medication management provider, the psychiatric nurse practitioners at Balance Psychiatric Services are taking new clients! Contact us today to see how we can help you stick to a medication routine.