8 Tips for Sticking to Your Treatment Plan
When you catch a cold, face an injury, or notice an unusual ache or pain, you take a trip to your local doctor’s office. After explaining your symptoms and getting a proper diagnosis, your doctor gives you a treatment plan designed to get you back on the path to health. As part of your treatment plan, you may be prescribed a certain medication, be told to monitor your symptoms, or urged to consider making lifestyle changes. After your doctor’s visit, you may take a trip to your neighborhood pharmacy, stock up on the medications and supplies you need, and start your treatment.
For a while, you may stick to this treatment plan: adhering to the right schedule, taking the proper medications, and checking in with your doctor when you need to. Over time, though, you may find that it gets more and more difficult to keep up. Eventually, you may end up altering your treatment plan or stopping it altogether. In the process, you may be exposing yourself to complications that leave you worse off than you started.
To reduce risks and get better faster, it is important that you stick to your treatment plan. You can rely on your friends and family to help you do this, but you can also call on your community pharmacist. Your pharmacist isn’t only responsible for filling the prescriptions that your doctor writes you 一 but also for helping you to manage your condition, monitor your side effects, and understand the treatment plan that you’ve been given. Your pharmacist is a resource to you, so in times of trouble, count on them.
Don’t have a pharmacist, or looking to find a new one? Consult our Pharmacy Finder to get in touch with a professional who can meet your needs and help you complete your treatment plan.
Steps for Success in Your Treatment Plan
- Set a consistent time to take your medications 一 In the midst of your busy schedule, you may find it difficult to remember to take your medications on time. You wouldn’t be alone, either. In fact, a recent poll estimates that almost 50% of people forget to take their medication at least once a month. Although occasional forgetfulness is common, missing too many doses of your medication can delay its effectiveness and damage your health. One of the best ways to fight the habit of forgetfulness is by setting a new, positive habit: taking your medications at the same time every day. When you establish a set schedule, you will find it easier to stick to your plan. If you take more than one medication, you should aim to take them at the same time every day, as well. In this case, consistency is key.
- Use apps and reminders 一 Another powerful way that you can fight forgetfulness is with the help of technology. Using your smartphone, set reminders on your phone to get a daily prompt to take your medication. You can also use reminders to refill your prescriptions or schedule your next appointment at the pharmacy. If your pharmacy uses the RxLocal app, you can even get convenient text message reminders and updates straight from the pharmacist themselves, along with the capability to request refills and set your own medication reminders within the app. With scheduled reminders, you can always stay in the know.
- Try medication synchronization 一 A third way to stay on top of your meds is with a medication synchronization program. Medication synchronization, shortened to med sync, is a program that many pharmacies offer to patients who take multiple prescriptions. When you sign up for med sync, your pharmacist will fill all of your monthly prescriptions for you on the same day and time. This means that you only need to make one trip to the pharmacy to pick up your prescriptions, reducing the chance that you forget to go.
- Make note of any side effects you have 一 Forgetfulness isn’t the only reason that you may not take your medications as they are prescribed, though. Negative side effects are a major reason that millions of Americans don’t stick to their treatment plan, and why you may be struggling to, as well. Whether you experience minor symptoms or serious complications, side effects can cause discomfort for you and even lead to other health problems. This is why it is important to track any side effects you experience and talk to both your doctor and your pharmacist about them. If the side effects are serious, it may be time to switch to a new medication that reacts better with your body 一 and that you will feel comfortable taking as prescribed.
- Monitor your measurements 一 In addition to keeping track of your symptoms, you should also keep track of other health measures to see how your treatment plan is progressing. This can include vitals like your heart rate and blood pressure or even simple measures like your weight and sleep cycle. Certain apps like Cardiio, Blood Pressure Tracker+, and MyFitnessPal can make taking, storing, and sharing this information easy.
- Don’t alter your medication 一 There are many reasons you may be inclined to stop taking your medication: high costs, negative side effects, or waning symptoms that suggest that you no longer need it. However, it is important that you keep taking your medications as prescribed until you get the approval to do otherwise. Making a change to your regimen can cause a number of complications, so make sure that you get your doctor and pharmacist involved if you want to adjust your treatment plan.
- Have an accountability partner 一 Aside from taking medications and measurements, you may be asked to make lifestyle changes as part of your treatment plan. Whether you need to eat a healthier diet or start a new fitness routine, it may be helpful to get an accountability partner. Pick a close friend, family member, or significant other to check in with you and encourage you to make the right choices. It may be helpful to find a partner who is also working to make lifestyle changes so that you can both keep each other accountable.
- Ask your pharmacist for extra help 一 When you experience any sort of health problems, including problems with your treatment plan, look to your pharmacist. With a quick phone call or a trip to your local pharmacy, you can ask questions, share concerns, and get personalized advice on how to stick to your regimen. Your pharmacist can also help you to fix any issues and eliminate any problems you may be having with your treatment 一 which will help you to overcome barriers and effectively complete your plan.
Increase Your Adherence, Improve Your Health
Adhering to a treatment plan can be hard. With the right resources, though, it doesn’t have to be a burden. Whether you need help managing a temporary illness or navigating a long-term condition, follow these steps to stay on the right track 一 then call on your community pharmacist to fill in the gaps. Together, you can increase your adherence and get to the end of your treatment even faster.