Medication compliance—or to put it more simply, following the directions written on any medication you take—is fairly important to your health. Perfect compliance means missing no doses and taking each dose at the correct time. Obviously, none of us are perfect, but when it comes to medication, the closer you are to perfection, the more likely it is that your medication will be effective.
According to Neal Ford, a clinical pharmacist at The Health Plan, missing multiple doses of a medication means you are no longer receiving the full benefit of that drug. “The disease could get worse, or complications could arise,” he said. “Some medications might not cause immediate symptoms when you miss a dose, but they could lead to serious issues. For instance, you might feel fine if you miss a blood pressure pill, but if you miss multiple doses, you could end up suffering a stroke or heart attack.”
Fortunately, there are ways you can up your compliance game:
Pill boxes: There are several varieties of pill boxes—daily, weekly or even monthly—and these vary as well with some offering morning, noon and evening compartments. Take a few minutes to lay out your medications ahead of time, and if you can’t remember if you took your medication, you can check the box to see if it’s still there. (If it’s still there, you didn’t take it…just to be clear.)
Associations with daily activities: Make taking your medication part of your routine. For example, if you get up and brush your teeth every morning, change it to, “I get up and brush my teeth and take my Zyrtec.”
Enlist the help of your pharmacist: Many pharmacies offer compliance or blister-packs that come with the daily (or even bi-daily, etc.) doses of your medication packaged and sealed individually into monthly cards. If you have too many doses for a particular time of the month, you’ll know that you missed a dose. Pharmacies also offer auto or scheduled refills. These may not help with daily reminders to take medication, but they will help you remember to refill and pick up your prescriptions before you run out.