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How to Manage and Track Self-Administration of Medication

Posted Apr 24th, 2012 by Pat Brown
Nearly the entire population of American adults and children adhere to some form ofself-medication regimen. We perceive that the elderly are the largest consumers of medicationbecause of chronic age related illnesses, the sandwich generation is second because of the work,family, and stress, and the younger people are last because of youth and resiliency; that mightnot be too far off the target in some areas except for the little ones. What we are certain of in ourlifetime is we will need medication for illness or protection from illness. Self-medication is themost cost effective method to get relief from minor short-term ailments or to manage medicalproblems until the doctors’ appointment, usually one week away and sometimes appointmentscan be a month away or more. How can we work, run a home, and take care of our familieswithout some relief to manage the suffering until we can get to the doctor?

Over the counter, prescription, and CAM (complimentary and alternative medications)fill this need to minimize suffering, beginning with pain relievers and laxatives to vitamins andherbal supplements. We need to take medication as recommended, or we overdose, or underdose, neither of which gains the effect we are looking for. In our busy lifestyles how do wekeep up with what we took, when we took it, and was it effective? Most of us believe that wetake our pills as prescribed by the doctor or on the medication label. However, the truth is wecould be missing many self-administration doses without being aware of it. When we take moremedication than prescribed then we run out sooner than we expect, or we do not take enoughand eventually stop taking it because we feel it is not working. By the time, we realize we haveunder dosed, it is too late, it is time for the next dose. So how do we minimize these over orunder doses? We minimize overdoses and under doses with a pill minder.

Clinical trials suggest a pill minder is a cost effective and simple way to manage self-administration of medications. Self-administration of medications always appears a no-braineruntil a stressor upsets the routine of the home and other routines follow the domino effect.Sometimes we can go days until the symptoms that were under control warn us that we are indanger. It is then that we wonder [for example] how in the world did I forget to take my bloodpressure medicine? We rationalize and brow beat ourselves because we are health conscious,responsible, and compliant but our one flaw is that we are human. Self-administration is not ano-brainer but a process that requires a system not routine to manage and track. A pill minder bydesign is one the most familiar system of our time, calendar days. Although the calendar day isnot full proof alone, it is a solid structure in which to manage many daily responsibilities. OMG!Did I take my medicine today? A quick flip of the lid for lets say Thursday and the answer isimmediate. “I took it because Thursday is empty or I didn’t because Thursday is full, there areno guessing, stressing, counting pills, or worrying about over or under dosing. Use the pillminder that begins on a Sunday and fill it up for the week. If there are day, evening, and nightmedications, get one pill minder and label each one appropriately. The pill minder is the tool forone less stress.

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About the author

Ms. Pat Brown MSN, APN, RN
Doctoral Candidate - RN for Luten Nursing Services and ADJ FCLTY at UOP

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