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How to Safely Manage Your Medications

 |  For Patients

It can get pretty confusing when you have to take several medications. 66% of all U.S. adults utilize prescription drugs, and the use of prescription medications increases in older adults and people who have multiple complex chronic health conditions. Taking your medications as recommended by your doctor is key to ensuring they are effective in keeping you healthy. The more you know about your medicines, the easier they will be to manage. We’ve compiled a few tips that can help you safely manage your medications and avoid any issues or negative interactions.

Write Out a List of Your Prescriptions

You should know the name of each medication you take, the dosage, why your doctor prescribed it, and when you should take it. Your pharmacist may be able to provide a printed list for you to have on hand. There are also several apps that are now available to log your medication information. Some of these apps include:

Make sure a close friend or family member knows where your list of medications is located so that they can access it quickly and easily in an emergency.

Keep All Medication Handouts

When you pick up your prescription, your pharmacist will give you a stack of papers with information about each one. Keep these, plus anything else they give you, in a folder so you can refer back to them if side effects or issues arise.

These handouts have the most important things you need to know:

  • How much and how often you should take each one (this will also be on the bottle)
  • Special instructions like “take 30 minutes after eating” or “may cause drowsiness.” (these should also be on the bottle)
  • When not to take them. Some medications shouldn’t be taken before bed or if you have a specific medical condition
  • Any possible side effects and what to do if you experience them
  • What to do if you accidentally take too much or miss a dose

Remember, your pharmacist will happily review your medication with you and answer any questions you may have.

Use Pill Containers and Phone Reminders

Most drug stores sell pill containers that let you sort your medication into daily doses so that you never have to wonder if you took your prescriptions on a given day. Just be sure to keep these in a safe place, away from children and visitors.

You can also use the smartphone apps we included above. These apps will allow you to set up reminders at a time that works best for you.

Check Your Medicine Supply Regularly

Pharmacies won’t always have what you need in stock and some medications can only be transferred to a different pharmacy by your doctor.

Make a note on your calendar when you need to order refills and be sure to check your medication supply once a week. Medications work best when taken as prescribed, so running out or taking less to make them last can actually reduce their effectiveness.

If you’re worried that your medication will run out before you can get more, call your doctor to talk about your options.

Talk to Your Doctor About Any Changes

At every visit with your doctor, go over your medications and make sure your prescriptions are current and have the correct number of refills available.

Talk to your doctor about any side effects, even if they feel embarrassing, so that he or she can make changes or tell you to stop taking them completely. Don’t wait for your next appointment if you have an urgent concern.

Also, make sure you tell your doctor about any over-the-counter medications or supplements you take to help avoid dangerous interactions. If you see multiple providers, be sure to tell each of them about all the medications you take.

Use Arizona Care Network’s My Medications worksheet to easily keep track of the supplements and medications you’re taking. Just keep it updated and take it with you to appointments.

Traveling? Carry Your Medications with You

When you travel, take extra medication with you, in the original bottles, in case you get delayed. If you are traveling in an airplane, we encourage you to put your prescriptions in your carry-on luggage and keep them with you. If you place them in your checked luggage and it is lost or delayed, this could cause issues for you. Not sure on TSA regulations? We’ve compiled 6 tips for getting through security with no hassle. 

Need Additional Resources?

Arizona Care Network’s concierge is part of your healthcare team and can connect you to the resources you need to successfully manage your prescriptions, help you schedule an appointment with your doctor, and more. Contact our concierge by calling 602.406.7226 or emailing

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