Tips to help you manage your medications

Alaska Med Ed

Reliably taking medications at the right time in the right way (with food, or an hour before eating, etc.) can be a serious chore.

Here are a few common problems and tips.

Remembering whether you took a prescription

Finding a system that works for you to track whether you’ve taken each med is key. Some people like using pill dispensers, some people like a weekly paper chart with boxes they can check off. Once the meds are filled in, the chart can be photocopied and kept near where drugs are stored for easy use.

If you’d like a pill dispenser, email us at and we’ll mail you one. For a paper chart, go to the website and click on the “Manage your meds” button, then the “Chapter 3 of the Med Ed Class” link. Toward the bottom of the page is this paragraph: “A very simple tool for tracking whether you’ve taken your prescriptions is a paper chart. Click here for one you can print out.”

Avoiding negative interactions

Keep a list of all medications and supplements and review the list with your provider every six months. People worry when they read that two drugs they’re prescribed shouldn’t be taken together, noted Senior Voice columnist Rita Hatch, but there can be more to the story. “Is the danger of interaction worth the benefit you get from it? That’s what doctors look at.”

Use one pharmacy. This helps avoid drug duplications, and ensures your pharmacist sees all your prescriptions, helping her or him look out for interactions and adverse side effects.

A few more things to keep in mind:

Store medications correctly to protect their efficacy and safety. Some meds must be refrigerated; all should be protected from temperature extremes. The optimal range for pills is 59 to 76 degrees.

Dispose of meds you no longer need to protect yourself and others from accidental ingestion.

Keep the poison control number handy in case you or someone else, like a visiting grandchild, takes something accidentally: 1-800-222-1222

For more tips on managing medications, and a self-quiz on medication habits, visit

Have a question?

Please email us at if you have a medication question you’d like answered, or to request a pill dispenser, wallet-medication list, or magnifying glass.

Lana Bell is a state pharmacist with the Alaska Pioneers’ Homes.

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