Medication Adherence - Taking Your Meds as Directed
So, you’ve been prescribed new medications with specific instructions on how and when to take them. This may seem simple enough, but it is estimated that three out of four Americans do not take their medication as directed.
Failing to take medication correctly is a complicated and common problem with real consequences. For example, not keeping your blood pressure in check can lead to several more severe conditions such as heart disease, stroke, and kidney failure.
Poor medication adherence takes the lives of 125,000 Americans annually and costs nearly $300 billion a year in additional doctor visits, emergency department visits, and hospitalizations.
There are many reasons why people do not take their medication as directed:
Questions about a medication’s effectiveness
Fear of the side effects
Difficulty taking the medication, whether it’s by injection, an inhaler, or pills
High prescription costs
Whatever your reason, not taking medication as prescribed could lead to serious health complications.
Taking medication as directed is the best way to manage chronic conditions as well as maintain the best possible health. If feeling better isn’t motivation enough, think about what you might miss by not following your doctor’s orders. Do you want to play with your grandkids or attend special occasions with your friends and family? Do you want to lose weight or lower your blood pressure? Whatever your goal, use it to motivate your medication management.
One of the best ways to get on track is to educate yourself. Talk with your doctor or pharmacist about the medications you are taking. They can tell you how to manage your medications, including what to do if you miss a dose, whether you can take them with other medications or vitamins, what foods to avoid, and what the possible side effects are.
Create a good relationship with your doctor or pharmacist so that you feel comfortable asking questions and expressing concerns. Having a conversation with your doctor about how your medication impacts your chronic condition is crucial to managing your condition and taking back your health.
If the information from one doctor or pharmacist does not sit well with you, get a second opinion from a different healthcare professional. Your health insurance provider may even cover second opinions. Many will cover the cost of the visit, so don’t be afraid to ask. Finding a healthcare professional that you trust may take some time and effort, but it is your right and your decision.
While talking to your doctor or pharmacist will help you understand the importance of taking your medication, additional resources can help you stay on schedule. Text message reminders, alarms on your phone, medication lists, apps, and videos on how to administer medications are all helpful.
Remember, failing to take your medication as directed puts your current and future health at risk.