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Taking medicine at home - create a routine

It can be hard to remember to take all of your medicines. Learn some tips to create a daily routine that helps you remember.

Create a Daily Routine

Take medicines with activities that are part of your everyday routine. For example:

  • Take your medicines with meals. Keep your pillbox or medicine bottles near the kitchen table. First ask your health care provider or pharmacist if you can take your medicine with food. Some medicines need to be taken when your stomach is empty.
  • Take your medicine with another daily activity that you never forget. Take them when you feed your pet or brush your teeth.

Find Ways to Help you Remember Your Medicines

You can:

  • Set the alarm on your clock, computer, or phone for your medicine times.
  • Create a buddy system with a friend. Arrange to make phone calls to remind each other to take medicine.
  • Have a family member stop by or call to help you remember.
  • Make a medicine chart. List each medicine and the time that you take the medicine. Leave a space so that you can check off when you take the medicine.
  • Store your medicines in the same place so it is easy to get to them. Remember to keep medicines out of reach of children.

When to Call the Doctor

Talk to the provider about what to do if you:

  • Miss or forget to take your medicines
  • Have trouble remembering to take your medicines
  • Have trouble keeping track of your medicines. Your provider may be able to cut back on some of your medicines. (DO NOT cut back or stop taking any medicines on your own. Talk to your provider first.)

References

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality website. 20 tips to help prevent medical errors: patient fact sheet. www.ahrq.gov/patients-consumers/care-planning/errors/20tips/index.html. Updated August 2018. Accessed September 17, 2018.

National Institute on Aging website. Safe use of medicines for older adults. www.nia.nih.gov/health/safe-use-medicines-older-adults. Updated May 23, 2017. Accessed September 17, 2018.

US Food & Drug Administration website. My medicine record. www.fda.gov/Drugs/ResourcesForYou/ucm079489.htm. Updated August 26, 2013. Accessed September 17, 2018.

Review Date 8/4/2018

Updated by: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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