Whether it’s allergies, high blood pressure, thyroid issues, or for pain relief chances are that most people need to take medication daily. It’s not always easy to remember to take your medication or at times to know if you did or did not take it. Knowing why you’re taking it can be just as important as adhering to your doctor’s orders. What should you ask? What’s available to make sure you’re getting the right medication? What are some ways to better help you remember to take your medication daily? Let’s look at a few of these answers. These tips and tricks are geared towards the visually impaired but can help nearly anyone who takes medication.
At the Doctor’s Office
When it comes to going to the doctor’s office and obtaining a new script make sure you understand how much you should take and when you should take it. You also need to understand how many doses are in each bottle, and when it needs to be refilled.
Speak up if you have any questions about your medication, including side effects. You also need to find out what to do if you miss a dose. With some medications, if you miss a dose you can take it immediately, or double-up the next day. For others, however, you just skip it and take your regular dose the next day.
Find out in advance what you should do if you accidentally take more than your dose of the medication. This can be very dangerous with some medications and you would need to seek medical help right away. With others, you simply don’t take your next scheduled dose.
This information and more can be found at WikiHow which has a great rundown on things to do concerning medication for the visually impaired including pictorial images to go along with each point.
At the Pharmacy
Most pharmacies in the United States have some sort of system for dispensing medication in a way to make it more easily understood by the visually impaired. En-Vision America offers a free downloadable brochure that helps educate consumers, doctors, pharmacists, and the community about products available free of charge. Highlights from the brochure include pictorial images for large print labels, talking labels, and the ScriptTalk app. The ScripTalk station (which is a standalone device that reads RFID chips adhered to the bottom of medication bottles) is also free of charge to pharmacy customers.
Important information copied directly from the brochure reads: Sometimes stores are unaware of their corporate policy of offering accessible prescription labels. In other cases, you may be the first patient to request accessible labels at a particular store location. Call En-Vision America at 1-800-890-1180 if you run into issues getting accessible prescription labels. Pharmacies are required to accommodate requests for accessible prescription labels, and by law, cannot charge extra for this service.
For persons taking opioid medication there is also an option to have a Controlled Substance Safety Label (CSSL). A CSSL helps ensure safety for people who have difficulty understanding printed media, cannot read a printed label, or are simply overwhelmed by the amount of information that comes with a Schedule II controlled substance medication.
Even though the information can be found through some of the assistive labels or devices mentioned, it’s still important to make sure you know when your medication is set to expire before leaving the pharmacy. This is especially true for medications that are only taken on an as needed basis. Some pharmacies may have reminder programs that will call you when a medication is due to expire or about to run out.
At Home or on the Go
If your pharmacy doesn’t offer some of the options mentioned above, you can still label your medications at home in a way to ensure that you’re taking the right medication at the right time(s).
- Mark lids and bottles: Most medication lids are interchangeable with other medication bottles therefore; however you decide to mark the lid you also need to mark the bottle to match. Braillable labels would also work for this option.
- Puffy Markers or Puffy Paints: If you cannot make out a symbol even when using a thick marker, you may be able to distinguish the shapes of different symbols by touch. Puffy markers and paints allow you to create your symbols with raised surfaces so you can more easily differentiate between your medications.
- Tactile objects adhered to the bottles: Objects such as buttons, dots, rubber bands, medicine rings or cotton balls also can help you differentiate between medications. These can be helpful if you’re having trouble coming up with symbols.
- Use Audio Prescription Labels: This would include ScripTalk mentioned above.
- Fillable Pill Boxes/Organizers: There are many options available including a Brailled Jumbo Portable Pill Box, Revolving Medicine Center, and MedCenter System Talking One Month Medication Organizer and Reminder.
Independent Living Aids, LLC has many of these items and more to help make living with visually impairments more manageable and carefree.