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Medication Adherence: 5 Strategies to Stick to Your Medication Routine

medicine

Following your medication routine (known as medication adherence) means taking medications as prescribed – the right dose, at the right time, and in the right way. Non-adherence can lead to serious complications, even death. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 125,000 deaths in the United States are due to medication non-adherence. Further statistics show that medication non-adherence accounts for $100 to $300 billion spent each year for both direct and indirect health care costs.

Forgetting to take medications can happen to anyone once in a while. However, if it happens more frequently, it’s time to take action. Lowenhill Home Care Services lists some strategies to help improve your medication adherence, including:

  • Tie taking your medications with a daily routine. Think about some of the routines that you have. Do you drink coffee in the morning? Do you read the newspaper at a particular time? Whatever routine you have, tie taking your medications with it. This will help make it easier for you to remember taking your medications.

    Note: If you plan to take your medications during mealtime, make sure to check with your doctor or pharmacist if the medication should be taken on an empty or full stomach.

  • Pill boxes. There are various types of pill boxes, some with daily, weekly, or even monthly containers. Some pill boxes even have morning, noon, and evening compartments so that you can segregate your medications according to what time they should be taken each day. Can’t remember if you already took your medication? Just double-check your pill box – if for example, the noon compartment is empty then that means you were able to drink it. If it’s not, then it means that you missed your dose for that time.
  • Set electronic reminders. Your mobile phone isn’t just good for texting or calls; you can use it as an alarm too! Set appropriate reminders for when you should take your medications. You can also use other devices, such as tablets, alarm clocks, reminder watches, and more.

    Note: Not a big fan of electronic devices? You can still set reminders by writing your medication schedule on a board situated in a visible location, post-it reminders, and other methods.

  • Talk to your family and friends. If you are living with a family member, you can ask them to remind you when it’s time to drink your medications. If you live alone, you can still ask your family and friends to call or text you with timely reminders.
  • Talk to your pharmacist. Many pharmacies now offer compliance or blister packaging to improve medication adherence. Blister packs are similar to pill boxes; however, your medications are packaged and sealed into monthly cards. Another service offered by pharmacies is automatic prescription refills. While this isn’t a daily reminder, it can help you in the sense that, even if you forget to stop by the pharmacy to refill your medications, you no longer have to worry since the pharmacy will automatically do it for you.

Influenza Vaccination Week: Key Facts You Should Know

medical personnel extracting vaccine using injection

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), around 960,000 people were hospitalized during the 2017-2018 season. While flu activity in the United States is now low, it is expected to pick up in the upcoming weeks.

In honor of Influenza Vaccination Week this December 8, Lowenhill Home Care Services lists some important flu vaccine facts that you should keep in mind:

What is the flu?
Also known as influenza, the flu is a contagious respiratory illness which is caused by flu viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness. The Flu is different from a cold. People who get the flu often get some or all of these symptoms:

  • Cough
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Sore throat
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Feverish/chills
  • Stuffy or runny nose
  • Fever*

Note: Not everyone with flu may have a fever. Also, some people may experience diarrhea and vomiting but this is more common in children than adults.

Why is it important?
Most people experience a mild illness when they get the flu. However, in some cases, it can be serious – and even deadly. Serious flu-related complications are more likely to occur in babies and young children, older adults, pregnant women, and people with certain chronic conditions.

To lower your chances of getting the flu, getting vaccinated each year is highly important. Remember, getting the flu vaccine doesn’t just protect you – it protects the people around you too. So, when you and your family get a flu vaccine, you are keeping yourselves and your community healthy.

Who are at risk?
Everyone, even healthy people, can get sick with the flu. Serious flu-related complications can affect people of all ages; however, some people are at a higher risk of developing serious complications. This includes seniors (aged 65 years and older), pregnant women, children below 5 years old, and people of any age with certain chronic health conditions.

Are there any side effects from the flu vaccine? What are they?
Any vaccine can cause side effects – and this is true for flu vaccines as well. For the most part, flu vaccine side effects are mild and can go away in a few days. Some of its side effects include:

  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Upset stomach
  • Redness, pain, or swelling (at the injection site)

Note: This is NOT the flu – the flu vaccine can’t cause the flu.

While serious side effects from the flu vaccine are rare, there’s a small chance that serious reactions can occur. In such cases, make sure to talk to your doctor immediately.

Keep these facts in mind and stay safe during the flu season. Remember, getting the flu shot doesn’t just protect you – it protects your loved ones and community too. If you haven’t had your flu shot yet for this year, make sure to get it soon!