In retirement, you might have to add new medicines or vitamins to your routine. The last thing you want is mix-up or a missed dose messing with your health, and that makes medication management crucial.
To make managing your meds easier, follow these best practices for organizing your prescription and non-prescription drugs.
Bring Your Medicines to Your Doctor's Visits
Next time you go to the doctor, bring all your regular medications. This includes inhalers, ointments, vitamins and herbal medications, even if you don't take them every day, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) says. Bring each medication in its original container to give your doctor a complete picture of what you're taking.
Create a Pill Card
A pill card is a helpful visual chart of your regular medications. It can help you track your daily doses, and you can share it with loved ones or bring it to doctor's visits.
You can create a pill card from scratch or download a template — the AHRQ has one — and fill it in with your medications, instructions and dosage charts.
Use a Pillbox
Never underestimate the power of a simple plastic pillbox. You can pick up an affordable model — or something fancier — at any drugstore.
Whatever pillbox you choose, this tried-and-true medication tool will help you stay on track and avoid missing or accidentally doubling up doses.
Use an App
If you'd rather track medications on your phone, download a medication reminder app. Look for an app with the features that matter to you, whether you're looking for daily alarms or refill alerts.
Double-Check the Instructions
If you've been taking a medication for a long time, it can be easy to go on autopilot. Revisit each medication's instructions every once in a while to make sure you're taking the medication correctly.
For example, some medications are best taken with food, some are best taken in the morning, and some interact with other medications. If you have questions about your medication's instructions, ask your pharmacist or doctor for clarification.
Watch for Side Effects and Prescribing Cascade
New medications can sometimes cause side effects. If you don't recognize the side effects, you might think you're experiencing new symptoms or a new ailment. This can lead your doctor to prescribe another drug to treat a problem that medication caused in the first place.
This is what's called prescribing cascade, and it's especially common if you visit multiple providers or specialists. Prescribing cascade is one more reason it's vital to update your doctors about the medications you're taking at every visit. If you're prescribed a new medication, always ask about any potential side effects so you know what to expect.
Ask for Help if You Need It
Medication management is a team effort, so keep your doctor in the loop whenever you start or stop taking medications. Try different medication tools and management techniques to find the solution that works for you, then stick it. And remember, your doctor and pharmacist are available to answer any questions along the way.