Remembering to Take Your Pills

Dec 11, 2013

By Trevor Shewfelt, Pharmacist at the Dauphin Clinic Pharmacy

YOLO. I really dont care for YOLO. Its not that I dont appreciate the sentiment of You Only Live Once. I loved it when Robin Williams told us to Carpe Diem in Dead Poets Society. I think Wayne Gretzkys quote You miss 100% of the shots you don't take is brilliant. Its just that I think saying YOLO instead of Seize the Day diminishes its gravitas. Besides, it sounds stupid to tell someone, Hey, YOLO.


If you miss 100% of the shots you dont take, what happens when you don't take that shot? You don't get that goal. Your team doesn't pull ahead. What happens when you don't take your prescribed medications? You dont get healthier. About half of patients don't take their medications as prescribed. About a third of first time prescriptions are not filled at all. It has been estimated that patients not taking their medications properly costs billions of dollars in North America every year. Some of the costs are due to increased hospitalizations.


So if missing doses of medication is so bad for a patients health, what can we do to fix that? Lets look at a few common reasons for missing medications.


Im on too many pills. Call your pharmacist and make an appointment to sit down and review your medications. Often people end up on multiple medications after seeing multiple doctors for multiple problems. You might have seen your diabetes specialist in Winnipeg, your surgeon in Brandon and your family doctor in Dauphin in the last six months and they were all treating different medical problems. Your pharmacist can help you decide if you still need all those different medications. Maybe some can be eliminated. Maybe some can be combined. After a medication review, with your input, your pharmacist can make recommendations to your doctor to reduce some of the pills you take and make it easier for you to remember the rest of them.


I take my pills at too many times of the day. Lunch hour always seems rushed for me. I always seem to get out of the pharmacy late. Sometimes I have to walk the dog. Sometimes I have to get to the bank. Sometimes I pack a lunch when I go to Winnipegosis. Sometimes I have a meeting. It just always seems rushed. So if I was told I have to take a medication at lunch hour, Id probably miss it several times a week. So during your sit down with your pharmacist, tell him or her about medication times that dont fit in with your schedule. Sometimes we can just move a dose to another time of day. Sometimes we can get a medication changed to a longer acting version. That could mean you might be able to take a medication once a day instead of twice a day. You just have to tell us what medication schedule works best for you.


I seem to be at the pharmacy every week refilling something. Cant all my refills come due at the same time? Of course they can. Just call us and ask. We have people all the time call and say, I need 39 days of this one, 23 days of that one and 27 days of the third one so they all match up. Then next month they tell us to give them 30 days of all three, and bingo, everything runs out together. Another option is letting us schedule everything for you. If we put your medications in a bubble pack or a Pacmed strip, we will automatically fill your medications on a schedule. It is usually every 4 weeks. You could even specify that every 4 weeks you want your bubble packs sent to Ethelbert. We can arrange that.


Why cant technology fix my memory problems? If this is your question, you are a person after my own heart. I cant seem to remember anything unless my phone beeps at me. It might be a kids hockey game, a meeting or a report that is due, but if I dont have my phone beep at me, Ill forget all of them. We now have an email reminder service to help you remember your prescriptions as well. Go to the Dauphin Clinic Pharmacy website at and click on the orange Prescription Refill Reminder button. Just fill in your information and how often you want to get an email reminder. It is that simple. In fact, well even pay you to try it. We are running a promotion right now. If you sign up for an email reminder, well give you $10 worth of DCP points that you can spend in the store. And you will be entered in draws for either an iPad or a flat screen TV. It is a pretty good deal that will also help you remember to take your pills.


It probably matters to exactly 0% of kids these days that I dont approve of YOLO. Many of them dont know or care who Wayne Gretzky is or how many shots he thinks you should take. I should probably be glad that the digital generation has a version of Carpe Diem. I know I am old, but I still think YOLO sounds dumb. Now if only someone will explain to me what is meant when someone reads this article and replies that they thought they would LMAO, but didnt.



The information in this article is intended as a helpful guide only. It is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional advice. If you have any questions about your medications and what is right for you see your doctor, pharmacist or other health care professional.


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