Insight 4: The importance of adherence

(Treatment week 2 of 12)

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In the past I have struggled with adherene to medications, but I am aware that adherence is critical to a good treatment outcome. Adherence often requires more commitment and organization than patients are prepared to take on. However, several practical tips and tricks can help you adhere to your medications. Look for ideas and methods that fit easily into your lifestyle. Try to include one or a combination of the following tips to help keep you on track.





















Educate before you medicate

Learning about your drug is one of the most effective ways to improve adherence. Once you know how to take your drug correctly and safely.


Keep track of your meds

Complicated drug names, difficult schedules and the realities of everyday life make adherence difficult. Don’t try to remember everything! Instead, make a list of all medications and medicines. Be sure to include the name and contact information of the doctor who prescribed each drug in case you have any questions. Provide a copy of this list to everyone on your health care team so they can help you manage your medications and avoid drug interactions. keep a copy with you of your medication, especially when you travel.


Create a calendar or schedule

Patients can benefit from creating a calendar that helps them adhere to their medication, especially if their treatment regimen is complicated. Include the exact days and times you’re supposed to take your medication, and keep your calendar in a visible location. The easier it is to read and follow, the better. You can also take notes to help keep track of your side effects or to record important dosing information (missed or skipped doses) so that you can keep your doctor informed when necessary.


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Set up reminders

Forgetfulness is one of the most common causes of non-adherence, which is why setting reminders can be the best way for many patients to adhere to their treatment plan. Take your medication at the same time as something that’s already part of your daily routine, such as brushing your teeth or going to bed. This can help you take your meds at the same time every day and establish a routine that's easy to follow. Set an alarm to keep yourself on track, or try another helpful tool, such as a pocket pill box that vibrates, a watch with reminder alerts or a voice alarm. There are also many apps that can help you manage your medication with your smartphone or tablet. Many of these apps are multifunctional, allowing you to create alarms for multiple medications, research drug interactions.


Organize your pills

Weekly pill organizers are an effective way to keep track of your medications. Organizers come in different sizes and are especially helpful when you have multiple pills. Make sure you understand how to store your medications properly, as some drugs may have strict storage requirements, such as remaining in their original containers or stored away from moisture.


Plan ahead for refills

Planning is necessary to make sure you always have your medication when necessary. If you plan to travel, count your pills to make sure you have enough medication while you’re away and in case you have unexpected travel delays. It’s best to take your medications in their original containers, and when flying, keep them with you in your carry-on luggage.


Talk with family and friends

Family and friends can play an important role in helping loved ones adhere to treatments. Give them access to your medication list and treatment calendar or schedule. They can also help you look for the most appropriate and effective reminder tools, or help you pick up refills of your prescription. Having others give you a gentle nudge when it’s time to take your medications can keep you consistent and let them feel helpful. Friends and family might also offer to help with transportation to your follow-up appointments, take notes about your side effects. Don’t be afraid to ask for help; adherence is always easier when you have support from others.


Manage your side effects

You should tell your doctor immediately about any side effects you experience so your health care team can help you work through them.


Keep follow-up visits

Being open and honest with your health care team is another proven method of improving adherence. Keep all of your appointments for follow-up testing, as your doctor will need to monitor your response to prescribed medications. These appointments should also be used as an opportunity to talk with your doctor about your medication, any side effects you’ve experienced or any trouble you’ve had with adherence.


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