If your doctor has prescribed you a medication, it's because they think it will help you. If you have any questions about the medicines you have been prescribed, you can speak to the pharmacist at your local chemist. They will be able to explain what your medicines are for and how to take them.
Your GP (family doctor) will also be able to help with questions about medication. You may feel that you no longer need your medication but you shouldn't stop taking it without speaking to your doctor first.
Keep track of your medicines
Make sure that
- your medicines are stored properly
- the medicines have not expired
- you order your prescriptions in advance so you won't run out of them
Taking many different medications at the same time can be difficult. It can be hard to remember what each drug is for, when you should take it, and how you should take it. This is especially true for people with memory problems. However, there are simple tips you can use to help you manage your medicines wisely.
- keep a checklist of all the prescription and over-the-counter medications you take
For each medicine, mark the amount you take, the time of day you take it, and whether it should be taken with food. Store two copies of the list: one on the fridge door or where your medications are stored, and one in your wallet or purse.
- review your medicine record at every visit to the doctor and whenever your doctor prescribes new medicine
Your doctor may have new information about your medicines that might be important to you. Whenever possible, have your health care provider write down advice and instructions for taking each medication. Keep this information handy.
- ask your pharmacist to provide your medicine in large, easy-to open containers with large-print labels
Keep medicines in their original containers, and never put more than one kind of medicine in the same container. Consider using multi-day dispensers that organise your medicines by the day and time that you should take them.
- to determine how a medication should be stored, ask your doctor or pharmacist and/or read the label
Some medications must be stored in the fridge. Your bathroom medicine cabinet is not a good place to store most medications due to the moist, warm conditions that can cause drugs to break down more quickly.
- don't stop taking a prescription drug unless your doctor says it's okay, even if you are feeling better
- get prescriptions refilled early enough so you won't run out of medicines
Running out could cause problems with your medicine schedule. Check expiry dates frequently and return any medicines that are out-of-date to your local chemist for disposal.
- keep all medicines out of the sight and reach of children and away from pets
If children do visit your house, be extra cautious.
Your pharmacist is a resource
The pharmacist is a good source of information about your medicines. In addition to answering questions and helping you select non-prescription medications, your pharmacist keeps records of all the prescriptions you get filled at that store.
Because the pharmacist keeps these records, it is a very good idea to have the same store fill your prescriptions whenever possible.
To find your local pharmacy visit the NHS Choices - Find Pharmacy services (opens in a new window) page.