For some patients, forgetting pain medications can be more than just a nuisance. Some conditions require regular medications to control symptoms and allow individuals to live their lives as normally as possible. For example, some teenagers with chronic illnesses sometimes have trouble taking their medications regularly not just because they are forgetful, but because they want to feel normal and healthy like their friends. This can cause long-term consequences for their conditions. Adults forget their medications as well, sometimes it is because they can be too busy to remember or they may be getting more forgetful with age.

If you have ever had trouble trying to remember your pain medications, you know this can be a problem.

According to this report from Consumer Reports, the problem of adults not taking medications or forgetting doses is currently being referred to as the nation’s “other drug problem.” While Consumer Reports indicates that there are no official statistics for this epidemic, it appears that approximately 45-55% of adults who fill prescriptions stop taking their medications before they are supposed to.

Various studies have shown that patients dealing with chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, chronic pain, and mental health conditions frequently stop taking their medications.

There are a variety of reasons for this.

Some patients simply forget doses which can affect the effectiveness of the medication overall. Others can’t afford to fill their prescriptions as often as they should which causes them to self-medicate with different doses than their doctor prescribed. Some patients didn’t feel they needed the medication, they didn’t think it was helping, or they stopped having symptoms. Occasionally patients felt the medication made them feel worse than the condition itself.

If forgetfulness is the primary problem, there are multiple methods that you can try to do at home to remember your pain medications and take the right dose at the right time.

You can:

  • Use a paper calendar in a place where you will see it every day
  • Use visual reminders such as placing the pain medication near something else you frequently use
  • Make it a habit by taking the medication at the same time each day
  • Use sticky notes around your house to remind you
  • Keep medications that need to be taken with food near the space where you prepare meals
  • Add the medication to your To-Do list
  • Set your alarm clock
  • Sort your medication using a daily pill box

In today’s increasingly connected culture where smart phones and digital media are more prevalent than ever, remembering medications may be right at your fingertips. 58% of adults in the United States own a smart phone. These hand-held devices can provide access to applications that can help individuals remember their medications on a regular basis. The easiest way may be to simply set a reminder alarm on your calendar daily so you receive an alert, like a text, whenever you need to remember your pain medications.

However, there are several apps available that can help.  These include:

  1. MedCoach: Available on iTunes and free for Apple devices, this application not only reminds you to take your pain medications on time throughout the day, but can also connect to your pharmacy so you don’t forget to refill a prescription before it is too late.
  2. MediSafe: If you use an Android device, there is a similar app available in the Google Play store. This visual app is easy to use and can sync with other devices in your household so everyone in your family can better remember their medication management.
  3. DoseCast: Available for both platforms, this medication management solution can help you customize your own medication management and remind you when the prescription has nearly run out.

According to MedCity News early in 2014, a startup company called GetMyRx is not only developing an application to help patients remember their pain medications and other drugs but will also completely eliminate the need to go to the pharmacy to refill prescriptions. The company partnered with several local pharmacies in their areas to provide same day refills and deliveries to patients who use the system. The MedCity News article notes:

“Here’s how the GetMyRx app works: Users scan their prescription and insurance card with the secure iPhone app. GetMyRx routes it to the nearest pharmacy in its network, and the pharmacy instantly confirms the drug copayment through the app, then delivers the medication within a few hours at no additional cost.”

GetMyRx charges a fee to the pharmacies to be able to use its revolutionary cloud based technology, which can allow the app to remain free for patients. GetMyRx is currently available in the Apple Store for iOS devices and the Google Play Store for Android. Right now, only patients in Chicago, New York, and Miami have access to the app’s features.

MedCity News reports that a Harvard University Study surveyed 280,000 patients only to discover that 1 in 3 adults who are provided with a new prescription never even go to the pharmacy to fill it. This phenomenon is referred to as “prescription leakage” and is a key factor in the medication non-adherence problem currently cited by Consumer Reports. By not filling prescriptions, these patients are causing $290 billion dollars in medical spending that could be avoided.

Patients need to know that it is not a weakness to use tools to remember to take pain medications or other prescription drugs.

Apps like GetMyRx and easy to use reminders at home can help maintain the right medical care for a variety of chronic conditions. Whether you are dealing with low back pain, osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, knee pain, migraine headaches, or a variety of other conditions that cause chronic pain, methods to remember your pain medications do not have to be overly intrusive.

We always want to hear creative new ideas so what methods have you used to remember your pain medications at home, on the road, or before you run out and need to refill a prescription?

Image by tr0tt3r via Flickr

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