3 New Year's Resolutions for Medication Management

DECEMBER 16, 2014
As 2015 grows near, we all have a tendency to think about what our New Year’s resolutions will be. What better time to begin a new phase of our lives than the New Year?
 
The issue is, how many of us actually continue this resolution past the end of January, let alone all the way through July or even December? Unfortunately, we seem to set our sights on unsustainable goals that involve 1200 calorie per day diets or 5 day per week exercise routines. Don’t get me wrong, I am in favor of appropriate nutrition and exercise regimens; however, these need to be part of our sustainable daily routines, not a resolution we start on January 2.
 
This year, how about we make a commitment to take personal responsibility for our medication regimens? This isn’t something we need to have completed by January 1, because the process of managing our own medications can be a goal that we work on all through the year.
 
If we take the time to implement these 3 goal-oriented, specific items, then we will be well on our way to being completely pharmaceutically responsible.
 
1.  Medication literacy:  We need to take the time to learn what our diagnoses are and which medications we are taking to treat each specific diagnosis. Importantly, we need to be sufficiently educated about our medications so we understand what the consequences will be if we do not follow our medication regimens. The next time you visit your community pharmacy, ask for a consultation with your pharmacist and ensure that you understand your medications.

2.  Medication synchronization:  I know we have all experienced this: we fill our prescription, and then 1 week later, we realize 1 of our other prescriptions needs to be refilled. Sometimes, we find that we are visiting our local community pharmacy 3 or 4 times per month. Many pharmacies now offer medication synchronization programs that align your prescriptions so you may pick them all up on the same day each month. At this visit, the pharmacist may schedule a short appointment with you to discuss your current medications and check-in with you to see how you are doing with your current regimen.

3.  Be in charge:  This is important and sometimes difficult to address. In my experience, it is quite often overlooked. Pick either a family member or caregiver and have a conversation about your medications. You are picking someone who will agree to handle your medications for you when you are no longer able to handle them yourself. This is a push to be an active participant in creating your plan, so that a plan is not created for you.
 
Understanding your medications, visiting your pharmacist once a month to pick them up, and creating a “take-charge” medication plan are sustainable resolutions that will carry you through the next year and beyond. If for some reason you need to be admitted to the hospital or visit the emergency room this next year, please don’t let it happen because you were mismanaging your medications.


Steve Leuck, PharmD
Steve Leuck, PharmD
Steve Leuck, PharmD, has been practicing both hospital and community pharmacy for over 30 years. He founded AudibleRx, in 2011, which provides Consumer Medication Information which is both Useful and Accessible. Content designed to meet health literacy guidelines. Format designed to "read along" with the audio presentation in a simple to use web application. More information at AudibleRx.org.
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