Managing Your Medications
The basic way to manage your COPD medications is to develop a good system, and then to make that system a routine. You're an individual, so your system should be individualized. Read the following suggestions, and then use whichever ones best work for you. If you're still having a hard time managing your medications, then ask your doctor for more suggestions, and involve the people in your life who love and care for you.
- Combine taking your medications with other routines or habits. For instance, keep your morning and evening medications in the kitchen. Then, when you eat breakfast and dinner, take your medications. You can also keep your medications next to your toothbrush. Then, in the morning and at bedtime, take you medications before you brush your teeth.
- If you have to take pills at various times throughout the day and you find yourself getting distracted and forgetting, invest in a wristwatch with an alarm, or use a cooking timer. Then, set it for each of your scheduled medication times.
- Get a pillbox with sections for the different days of the week and even different times during each day. This way you can plan out a week's worth of medication at a time and will be able to see if you miss any doses.
- If you have trouble organizing your pillbox, ask for help - from a family member, a friend or someone in your doctor's office.
- If you find yourself frequently missing mediation doses, keep a diary of when that happens. Then bring it in to your doctor so the two of you can work at finding a solution.
- Keep a day's worth of pills with you at all times so that if something unexpected comes up when you're away from home you'll be able to stick to your medication schedule.
- If some of your medications cause unpleasant side effects, let your doctor know. Maybe by changing the dose the side effects can be relieved, or maybe the medication can be changed.
- If you're not sure you're taking your medications correctly, or if you think your inhaled medication isn't working, ask your healthcare provider to watch you take your inhaled medication. Your healthcare providers may have pointers to improve your technique.
- When traveling, keep all of your medications with you in your carry-on bag. Keep a copy of the prescriptions for your medications also.
It may be hard to remember to take all of your medications. Recognizing this and taking steps to help yourself remember is an important aspect of managing your COPD. Download and print this medication chart and make notes on it that may help you better manage your medications.
This information has been approved by Ann Mullen, RN, MSN, CNS, AE-C (September, 2009).