Managing Your Medicines

Keep a checklist of all the prescription and over-the-counter medications you take. For each medicine, mark the amount you take, the time of day you take it, and whether it should be taken with food. Store two copies of the list: one on the refrigerator door or where your medications are stored, and one in your wallet or purse. You may wish to print out the enlarged version of the chart on this page to help you.

  • Review your medicine record at every visit to the doctor and whenever your doctor prescribes new medicine. Your doctor may have new information about your medicines that might be important to you. Whenever possible, have your health care provider write down advice and instructions for taking the medication. Keep this information handy.
  • Ask your pharmacist to provide your medicine in large, easy-to open containers with large-print labels. Keep medicines in their original containers, and never put more than one kind of medicine in the same container. Consider using multi-day dispensers that organize your medicines by the day and time that you should take them.
  • Ask your doctor or pharmacist and/or read the label to determine how a medication should be stored. Some medications must be stored in the refrigerator. Contrary to what you may think, your bathroom medicine cabinet is not a good place to store most medications due to the moist, warm conditions that can cause drugs to break down more quickly.
  • Don’t stop taking a prescription drug unless your doctor says it’s okay — even if you are feeling better.
  • Get prescriptions refilled early enough so you won’t run out of medicines. Running out could cause problems with your medicine schedule. Check expiration dates frequently and discard any medicines that are out-of-date.
  • Keep all medicines out of the sight and reach of children and away from pets. If children do visit your house, be extra cautious and write down the phone number of the nearest poison control center.
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