Traditional and non-traditional methods to help jog the memory of a patient to take their medication.

Medication Compliance: My Wake-up Call

Let's be real. No one wants to take medications daily. Unfortunately, for some, that becomes a reality. Usually, this happens when people reach older ages. This was not the case for me.

In 2016, I was diagnosed with bladder cancer after being an active, relatively healthy young adult. I was 40 at the time. Since then, I've had more physical and health-related issues. Most as a direct or indirect result of my cancer diagnosis and the treatments I received.

Medication compliance with type 2 diabetes

Last September, I was officially diagnosed as diabetic. While I was already taking some medications since my original diagnosis, being diagnosed with diabetes made it more critical for me to stay on top of taking my medications as prescribed. This is an issue that I have struggled with all of my life.

According to a New York Times article, about 50% of medications for chronic diseases are not taken as prescribed.1 Obviously, I'm not alone!

I never thought that I would be so dependent on medications so early in my life, but here I am. I have recently transitioned to working from home, which makes things a bit easier. Still, I get sidetracked. I recently had a lab draw at my primary care physician's (PCP) office, and my results weren't great. Some improved. Some have gotten worse. Others pretty much had stayed the same.

Moving from excuses to solutions

Now, I could give you every reason that I have not been taking my medications as I should. However, I won't. I won't because it really doesn't matter. The fact is, I haven't been taking them as I should, and now, I'm paying the price. I was prescribed more medications and received a couple of monitoring devices to use at home.

Now it's time for action. After discussing some things with my doctor, I went home and did some of my own research. In doing so, I found this article on the FDA website.

Tips for improving medication compliance

I now have a game plan.

Multiple types of reminders

I am utilizing technology with old-school reminders. I have made index card reminders to place in key areas of my home to remind me to take my medications. I have also added reminders to my phone, Google calendar, Walgreens app, and another app that I am now using to monitor my blood glucose and blood pressure. Previously, I only had reminders on my phone, and it was easy to mark them as done and move on, but utilizing more than one electronic measure makes it harder to ignore. Having been through chemotherapy, my brain doesn't function the way it used to, so having all the extra reminders has been helpful to me so far.

Accountability partner

Living alone has presented a lot of challenges over the years, even though I mostly enjoy it. One thing is that I don't have someone here with me to poke me when I'm not compliant with my medications. After my doctor's appointment, I discussed things with a friend, and she volunteered to be my accountability partner. Since the conversation, she's been checking in with me at least once a day to see how things are going and if I've taken my medications. Having a support system is great, but having someone willing to make you accountable is even better.

Pill organizer

Another helpful thing that I've done is bought a new pill organizer. The previous one that I purchased had become too small, and I could not get all of my meds in it. So I got on Amazon and found a beautiful weekly AM/PM organizer with rainbow colors. I can now fit everything I'm taking into the organizers so that I don't have to remember what I couldn't fit in. In addition, I don't have to go through every bottle I have every time I have to take medications! It is a huge time saver, and I'm so glad I finally took the time to do that.

I'm still in the early stages of everything. Still, I'm hopeful that I will get the hang of this thing and take control of my diabetes and other health issues. I still have a lot of living to do, and I'm not willing to throw in the towel yet.

Do you have any tips for tricks for taking your medications? Please share them with us.

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