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The Prescott Daily Courier | Prescott, Arizona

home : features : features May 22, 2015

7/6/2014 6:00:00 AM
What's the real reason you're not taking your meds?
West Yavapai Guidance Clinic

As discussed in the Counselor's Column last week, there are consequences for not taking medications as prescribed - no matter what the med, no matter what the illness. Previously, the side-effects and the role they play in medication adherence were the focus. Now, let's look at specific tools and methods that encourage someone to take their medications as prescribed.

Katy Welty, team leader for the Peer Support Program at West Yavapai Guidance Clinic, suggests connecting the routine of taking medication to some other task you do daily. "If you walk your dog, put your meds by the leash. Putting them by your toothbrush is another good one. Or, if you check your email regularly, maybe putting the meds by the computer is a better fit. By linking the taking of your meds with another activity you do, you are more likely to be successful in taking them regularly and as prescribed."

By establishing routines, you minimize the need to remember. You just "do." But there is an exception here that Raymond Frey, MSSW of West Yavapai Guidance Clinic, cautions not to forget. "Routine matters. So don't forget to make plans for days that don't follow the routine." Are your Saturdays different in flow than your Mondays? What about during a vacation - what's the plan for ensuring your medication adherence doesn't slip?

And don't forget about technological tools. Between watches, phones and computers, the opportunity to set an alarm is all around us. Why not use an alarm as a prompt to remember that it's time to take medicine? Another low-tech tool that is sold everywhere, relatively inexpensive and comes in many styles is the medication organizer (sometimes referred to as medication strips or pill boxes, often plastic, and with days of the week usually noted).

"Make sure you know what you are taking, what it's for, how you can tell whether or not it's working the way it's supposed to, and possible side-effects," said Frey. "If you are not clear, discuss with the prescriber or the pharmacists."

Before implementing some of these practical tools, perhaps it's a good idea to do a personal inventory about how you feel regarding medications, in general. Then, give some thought to how these feelings may impact how well, or how poorly, you follow prescribed medication therapies. There could be something deeper that's holding you back in terms of adhering to a medication schedule. It's important to consider this and address it with your doctor. If the buy-in is there, taking medications as prescribed becomes much easier.

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