Diabetes medication is prescribed by your physician to help keep your blood glucose at optimal levels. People with diabetes may also be required to take medications for related conditions, such as high blood pressure or elevated cholesterol levels, which add to the confusion. Consider these gentle reminders to help you take your diabetes medication correctly.
Get to Know Your Diabetes Medication
Talk to your doctor, pharmacist or diabetes educator about your medication so you can understand why you need it. Some oral diabetes pills need to be taken 30 minutes prior to a meal and others need to be taken with food. Understanding pill timing can be crucial to obtain the best results from your medication. Be aware of food and other drug interactions. Know how supplements, minerals and vitamins may interact with your prescription medications. Unless you specifically ask or see the actual directions on your medication container, you may be taking your medication incorrectly. When you receive medication at the pharmacy you must sign a release form stating that you understand specific medication instructions. Take advantage by asking direct questions to your pharmacist while you are there. People with diabetes may also need to learn how to properly inject daily insulin. There are varieties of insulin’s that need to be taken at certain times, such as rapid insulin which is typically taken no more than 10 minutes prior to a meal. Noting the time a medication needs to be taken helps you develop an important habit you won’t forget. You may even need to set a kitchen timer or phone alarm at the beginning to help keep you on track. You may need to meet with a nurse or diabetes educator to see specific techniques used for an injection.
Ask your doctor what could happen if you miss a dose of diabetes medication. Find out if you should take the dose or wait until the next dose. Often the potential circumstances are dangerous such as extremely low blood sugar when you ‘double up’. Always carry glucose tablets and a glucose source to prevent further problems from low blood sugars. Learn the complete routine, such as taking a blood glucose reading prior to injecting insulin especially if you are on a sliding scale dosage. Beyond remembering to take your medication, it is also important to know how to store it properly so they remain effective. For example, leaving your medication in a car can lead to inactivation due to heat or freezing temperatures. Be aware of possible side effects or adverse effects. If you experience any of them, report the symptoms to you health care team immediately. Do not stop taking medication without informing your health care provider.
Put It in Writing
It is easy to get confused, whether you are taking one diabetes medication or several medications. Have a written and updated list of your medications with times to take them and basic instructions in your wallet. Keep the same list in your glove compartment of your car in case of an accident. Place a copy of your health conditions and medications on your refrigerator. This is where a paramedic, fire fighter or police man will look in times of an emergency. Get to know the names of the medications you need to take along with what each one does. This can be very helpful in an emergency or when you are traveling. The US Department of Health and Human Services offers a medication record service to help you maintain a record of what you need to take.
Simple Ways to Keep Track of Taking Medication
There are simple ways to keep track of your medication and when to take it. Certain medications can be put in a pill box. Some boxes have compartments for days of the week while others have them for times throughout the day. Ask about getting a medication sheet, which is a checklist where you can check off your medication after you take it. You can also talk to your pharmacist about getting a blister card, which is a calendar card where you can put your medications to help you remember when to take them. Maintain a diabetes log book, which you can refer to when you are unsure about timing or want to determine past blood sugar patterns. Bring this with you to all diabetes appointments which can help your physician see if the medications are working.
Reminder Services to Take Your Diabetes Medication
Harness the power of technology to gently remind you to take your diabetes medication. Take the traditional pill box to the next level with one you can carry around that sends an alarm to you as needed. Whether you are elderly, have a hectic schedule or need to keep track of multiple medications throughout the day, these tools can help you maintain your medication schedule. Take advantage of online services that can call, text or message you when you need to take medication. You can also have a reminder service ring your phone at designated times when you are supposed to take your medication.
It Takes a Village
Establishing a team can also help you remember to take your medication correctly. Consult with a family member or neighbor to help keep you on track. Attend support groups to learn tricks from other patients. Enlist the assistance of your friends and co-workers to help you stay motivated and accurate. Providing information to a trusted person at home and at work can also be helpful if an emergency arises.
Ways to Offset the Cost of Medication
Cost can be a factor when people skip medication. Contact your insurance company to see if a generic version would be covered under your plan and talk to your doctor to find out if it would be right for you. Search for an affordable supplemental insurance plan to help pay for your medications. Ask your doctor for samples and discuss your needs with your health care team. Some pharmaceutical companies now offer assistance cards with a set lower co-pay per month. When you are proactive, you can find a way to afford essential medications.
Failure to take your medication properly can lead to serious consequences. Diabetes management can be complicated, but you can do it! Gentle reminders help you remember when and how to administer essential diabetes medication.