Tips from others with M.E. for remembering to take medication

My post asking you to let me know how your pharmacy has helped you is also generating some great tips from people with M.E. on remembering to take your medication, so I’ve started this post to collect your suggestions.

Some tips so far from Twitter chats:

  • Use aΒ seven day dispenser or pill box.
  • Set reminders on a computer diary.
  • UseΒ a calendar/memo/timer on your phone to set to remind you.
  • Have a whiteboard to write notes on.
  • Stick post-it notes in obvious places.
  • Put medication in a place that reminds you to take it e.g. next to your toothbrush (for drug safety, I must remind you to keep medication out of reach and sight of children, if children live with youΒ or if you have visits from them)

If you have ways of remembering, please feel free to share them by commenting below on this post so that they become part of a permanent resource.

There’s also a new blog post on using apps to manage your medication here

Comments will be moderated and all views will be respected.

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26 thoughts on “Tips from others with M.E. for remembering to take medication

  1. I have an alarm on my mobile phone to help me remember to take my pills in the evening. The problem though is that I get so easily distracted on my way from the living room to the kitchen (it’s the enormous distance of eight meters…;-) so when I get to the kitchen I’ve decided to feed the cat and make myself a cup of tea too. Which I do, but by then I’ve forgotten that the reason I went to the kitchen in the first place was to take the pills. An hour later I suddenly remember the pills, but have trouble remembering if I actually took them or not. Which could be helped by using a pill dispenser that I never get around to start using. I also have to keep morning and evening pills in two different places in the room, because in the morning my brain is unfocused enough to take evening pills instead of, or in addition to, the morning pills. Taking pills in the morning that was ment to help me sleep at night doesn’t really help my energy level πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • A popular tip, it seems, as Hilde has to do the same and so do I! I have to admit that I also once took my bedtime meds in the morning – not good! Thanks for adding your tip Cathy.

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  2. I used to keep mine next to my tooth brush, as featured in the Action asthma booklet featuring Desmond dragon! I have too many now, but I still take them either just before or just after brushing my teeth.

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    • Yes, that’s a great tip, Clare! I used to attach a strip of tablets to my toothbrush with an elastic band – no ignoring that as a prompt! Although this might be really handy, I must remind those with children (or who have children visiting their home) that medication needs to be kept out of reach of children (and preferably also out of sight too). I’d forgotten this tip, so thanks Pipusmar πŸ™‚ For steroid inhalers, brushing teeth after using removes any of the steroid medication that got left in the mouth, preventing side effects such as oral thrush developing πŸ™‚

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  3. I keep my “morning” pill box on top of my habitual morning can of fizzy pop – Ensuring that I don’t just set them aside because I don’t have anything to swallow them with. And set up a month’s worth of pills in their boxes at a time.

    Anyone who has a foolproof way to remind themself if they’ve just taken, or only planned-to-take-then-never-did, their PRN medication (Especially bottled syrups), I’d be most grateful if you could share.

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  4. Here are some tips I use:

    If taking morning and evening medications/supplements try using different supplement boxes. I used to use a weekly strip and a weekly 7 sided supplement box. Different shapes and/or colours worked for me. I have to have days of the week labelled. Either M, T, W, or Mon, Tues, Wed etc.

    I then had to buy larger supplement boxes, and I found some lovely, very large, clear weekly strips at Boots (buy 3 for the price of 2). Clear plastic works better for me so that I can see the contents. I could get them all in one weekly strip but I decided to use 2 strips. I keep them both together in the door of my fridge, but always place the morning one on the left, and the evening one on the right.

    Have a routine, always take at the same time and place. Leave notes by the kettle (or what works for you) where you will always go. Have you taken your supplements? or just Supps?

    Hope that helps,

    Elspeth

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  5. I use weekly pill boxes, too. I have my morning meds in the bedroom, the evening ones in the medicine cupboard in the kitchen, so take them with supper. There is an excellent App for Android phones (maybe iphones too) Dosecast? Dosebox? that pings up a reminder, detailing which meds ought to be taken. The paid for version also records missed doses, and can link into a massive database of medicines.

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    • Sounds like a great app, I’ll look into that, thanks πŸ™‚ I just use my smartphone alarms and hit snooze if I’m in the middle of something and it’s inconvenient to take them but a specific app sounds helpful. Thanks, Dizzy-Ann πŸ™‚

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  6. Hi! I have a question. A few of my medications instruct not to remove them from their bottles for storage… is that just long term storage, thrown in a plastic baggy… or does that include the day of the week trays?
    I assume it’s for moisture-humidity reasons or sunlight reasons, but I fail to see how plastic to plastic might be bad. I struggle to remember my medications- no amount of alarms, alerts, apps, phone lock outs, and my service humans can’t seem to assist (both have cognitive issues themselves and work). Long term maybe a service dog for reminding and insisting would be best haha.

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    • Hi, it can make a difference even if they’re out of their packaging for a few days. Some tablets are what we call “hygroscopic” so they absorb moisture from the environment and this can affect how the tablet delivers the medicine and the structure of the drug molecule. The packaging is specifically designed to avoid this. Most weekly tray designs aren’t air-tight, including my own, and one of my meds is hygroscopic so I don’t put it in my tray (they go mushy even just overnight in my tray) but I use a rubber band to strap the tube mine come in to my tray so that I remember it. If you’re still wanting to take them out of the original packaging they need to be in something air-tight but also so that there isn’t any air around the tablets, so kind of vacuum packed as the air in a plastic Ziploc bag is still enough to affect the tablet, and also the light, if it’s a medicine that gets degraded by daylight. The way to tell is if the tablet goes mushy but more difficult to see the effect of it’s light sensitive though.

      A work-around we used to use at work, though it won’t help with my own similar problem as mine are in a tube not a foil strip, but we used to cut the foil around each individual tablet, making really sure not to pierce the blister, so the tablet is still protected in the packaging but can be put into the compartments of the weekly tray. Fiddly to do though as it requires a lot of precise cutting but maybe this idea will help you.

      If you’re still unsure please check it out with your pharmacist. If you can’t physically go along you could try ringing them for advice and I’m sure they’d be happy to advise for your situation. Best wishes, Emily.

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      • Thanks for the info Emily I really appreciate it. Here in the US we don’t often do the blister pack prescription meds some of my Euro friends have, we usually just get ours in a semi-opaque plastic bottle or fully opaque in the case of some of mine.

        I’ll try spreadsheeting all the meds first to see if I can’t figure out which meds can’t be out of the pack, as far as I know they can all deal with the air touching them in the bottle and touching one another. I might try the caps with the alarms/timer functions on them, that way they’re still in original packaging, but I have a reminder/confirmation of last taken. πŸ™‚

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        • Ah yes, I remember seeing the bottles you have over there in films! One other reason they might say to keep them in the original packaging is that sometimes people transfer the meds to their own bottles, which obviously have no information about the meds, such as name, strength and dose, which can cause a problem if there’s an emergency, as the health professional can’t see what the meds are. A spreadsheet is a really good idea for organising meds. We sometimes give people what we call a prompt sheet instead/as well as other memory aids, as you can also have columns for the times of day and tick them off when you’ve taken them and can monitor how you’re doing with them. I also think having a chat with your pharmacist is the best bet for getting a solution. I hope you manage to get everything worked out and easier for you. Best wishes, Emily

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