Tips to Remember and Stay on Your Medications

The first step to staying on your medication is understanding what you are taking and why.

  • Ask your doctor what you are being treated for and how each medicine helps. For example: If you are taking a statin, you should know that it is for lowering your LDL-cholesterol to lower your heart disease risk.
  • Know the side effects of any medications you are taking. You can find this out by asking your doctor or pharmacist.
  • Ask your doctor how your medicine works with your other medications and the foods you eat. For example: Some medicines work best if you take them with food, and others work best if you take them at bedtime.
  • Ask your doctor what to do if you miss a dose of medicine or have problems with side effects. It is important that you keep your doctor informed of how the medicine is working for you. It may be useful to ask your doctor for help in completing a chart on all of your medicines that includes the name of the medication, what the medication is being taken for, when to take it, what side effects to watch for, and whom to call if you should have a problem.

Remembering to take your medicine is important. Daily reminders are often helpful when scheduling your medication doses. Try to time taking your medicine around activities that you do daily such as setting your alarm clock, brushing your teeth, eating your meals, going to work, or doing other daily activities.

Other ways to help yourself remember to take your medicine could be:

  • Daily reminders are often helpful when scheduling your medication doses. Try to time taking your medicine around activities that you do daily such as setting your alarm clock, brushing your teeth, eating your meals, going to work, or doing other daily activities. Once you have the routine down it will become a habit (for example, taking your daily meds before you brush your teeth by putting the prescription bottle next to your toothbrush).
  • Setting your watch alarm to go off when it's time to take your medicine.

  • Placing a reminder card in a visible place.

  • Having a family member or a friend remind you.

  • Use a medication box that will hold your entire day's supply of medicine. This will let you know if you missed a dose of medicine.

If you have tried these tricks and still have trouble remembering your medicine, talk to your doctor or pharmacist. It may be possible to simplify your medication schedule or to put your medicine in special containers called blister packs to help you.

For important information about how to talk to your doctor or pharmacist about your medications, as well as information that is important to know about your prescriptions, please read the following MedicineNet.com articles:


Portions of the above material has been provided with the kind permission of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute-National Institutes of Health.
Last Editorial Review: 10/4/2004