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Published On: Thu, Apr 16th, 2020

How to Finally Stop Forgetting to Take Your Medicine

Forgetting to take your medication is a problem as old as, well, medicine. And it’s not just a problem for elderly people with memory issues. It’s a problem that we all face – young, old, healthy, or chronically ill. But if you don’t deal with it, you could face serious health consequences.

Photo/Steve Buissinne

Why Do We Forget?

Forgetfulness isn’t something new or unique to medication, but it definitely seems to intersect the issue more frequently than we’d care to admit.  A study from North Carolina State University may offer some insights as to why.

“We’ve found that it is not just differences between people, but differences in what we do each day, that affect our ability to remember to take medication,” Dr. Shevaun Neupert explains. “This is the first time anyone has looked at the effect daily changes in how busy we are affects our ability to remember medications. We also learned that these changes in daily behavior affect different age groups in different ways.”

For example, the data shows that older adults do a better job of remembering to take their medication on days when they don’t have as many tasks or responsibilities on their plates. Younger people, on the other hand, are better at remembering medication on days when they’re busy.

The study also found that cognition and critical thinking skills play an important role in remembering to take medication. People are more likely to remember to take their medication on days when they score higher on cognition tests.

7 Ways to Remember

While the North Carolina State University study is interesting, it’s purely informational. If you’re looking for ways to overcome forgetfulness, you’ll need a practical and proactive plan. Here are some helpful ways to remember to consistently take your medicine on time:

  1.     Learn About Your Drugs

The more you know about your drugs, the more likely it is that you’ll take them seriously. Do some research on how the drug works, why you need to take it, what the side effects are, and what happens when you don’t take it on time. This will increase your likelihood of being consistent. 

  1.     Choose Easier Options

Are there easier options for taking the drug that don’t require you to remember to pop a pill every few hours? For example, many women use a birth control patch instead of a birth control pill. This only requires them to put on a new match once per week (with every fourth week off).

  1.     Take Medication at the Same Time Every Day

Even if you have the luxury of deviating by an hour or two, it’s smart to take your medication at the same time every single day. Not only does this make the medicine more effective, but it also reduces the likelihood of forgetting. If you know that you take your medicine at 10 a.m. every morning, it becomes a habit. 

  1.     Set an Alarm

Worried that you’ll forget? Have too many things on your plate? Set a daily reminder in your phone to take your medication. This is a simple way to train your brain to take the medicine, even if you have trouble forming habits. 

  1.     Use a Pillbox

If you take lots of medication, consider using a pillbox and placing it in a conspicuous place – like your spot at the breakfast table. By placing all of your medicine in one place, it’s less likely that you’ll forget one (or all) of your pills.

  1.     Flip the Bottle

If you only take one medication, you can use the old flip the bottle trick. Every time you take your medicine, you flip the bottle over. Then when you see the upside-down bottle, you’ll remember that you already took your medicine. If you see it right side up, this indicates you still need to take it.

  1.     Get Some Help

Sometimes it’s nice to have a helping hand – a little bit of accountability, if you will. Consider asking a spouse, roommate, or coworker to remind you to take your medicine. 

Stay Healthy, Folks

We’re living in a chaotic world right now, so make sure you’re putting your health first. If you have an underlying health condition that puts you at high-risk for contracting a virus, it’s especially important that you take your medication and practice smart, healthy behaviors.

Author: Anna Johansson

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