Stay on track with medications during a pandemic

Keeping up with a medication schedule can be challenging during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. These tips can help.

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The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has turned life upside down for many people. You may be working from home, not working at all or have children at home who don't usually live with you, such as college kids. Juggling all of the changes that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused can make it challenging to stay on top of your medication routine.

In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic may cause you to feel stressed, afraid and less hopeful. These feelings may lead you to make choices that worsen your medical condition, including not following your medication regimen as closely. Cost may also be an issue, especially if you're unemployed.

Whether you're taking one medication or several, it's important to continue taking them as directed by your doctor. Medicine helps keep medical conditions from getting worse.

Try these suggestions to help keep your routine on track.

Start with a list

Have an up-to-date list of medications from your doctor. This provides a clear roadmap for your medication routine. Make sure it matches the drugs you have at home.

If you have questions about the medicines you're taking, call your doctor or pharmacist. He or she can guide you on any concerns you have, including risks involved with COVID-19. He or she can also tell you if you should make any changes.

If you can't see your doctor in person, a phone call or a video or online visit may be an option. These types of telehealth visits can be helpful for conditions that need to be monitored, such as high blood pressure.

Map it out

If you take several medicines throughout the day, consider creating a schedule and posting it where you'll see it often. If you take several medications, your doctor or pharmacist may be able to help with a schedule or offer ways to make your routine simpler.

If your daily routine has changed, look to regular points, such as mealtimes and bedtime. These can serve as cues for when to take medicine. Or, try tying your meds to other habits. For example, you might leave your morning meds by your coffeepot.

Use reminders

If you're mostly at home, placing sticky notes near your medicines may be enough of an alert to keep you on track. Pillboxes are another low-tech tool.

For a more high-tech option, set alarms or timers on your phone to remind you to take your medication. Your pharmacy may also offer a reminder service through phone calls and text messages. If your schedule varies from day to day, this service may be especially helpful.

Stay ahead on refills

Some drug companies have shifted their focus toward helping with COVID-19. In addition, some people are taking drugs not yet proved to prevent or treat COVID-19. These situations may make it hard to get the medicine you need. Without access, your routine may lapse.

A week or two before you need a refill, call your pharmacy to make sure your medication is available or order online. If there's a shortage, your doctor may suggest other options.

Before you pick up a prescription, check to see if your pharmacy has drive-through or curbside pickup options. Or check with your pharmacy about mail order or delivery. Ordering a 90-day supply of drugs instead of a 30-day supply may be another way to stay on track.

If you run out of refills and can't see your doctor in person, ask if you can have a phone or online visit instead.

Cost can make it challenging to keep a steady supply of medication. If you're having trouble paying for your medicine, ask your doctor about lower cost alternatives. A generic version may cost much less. Your doctor or pharmacy may also recommend organizations that can help cover the cost of medications. Drug manufacturers also sometimes offer discounts or programs.

Reach out if you need to

If you're struggling to manage your medications, don't isolate yourself. Reach out to your doctor, pharmacist, and family or friends who care about you. With the support of others and a solid plan in place, you can continue to manage your medications and take good care of your health and well-being.

June 17, 2020 See more In-depth

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