No matter what your age, at some point in your life you will take medications in some form. Over the counter and prescription medications both fall into this category. Like anything else, they have a lifecycle; from the need, to the purchase, to storage, to use, to refill, to proper disposal. This article focuses on how to manage medications from start to finish as described in the title.
This is the first step in the lifecycle to manage medications. Your body is signaling that you have an issue that needs attention. It may be something as simple as a minor headache, or an issue more substantial that requires a doctor’s visit.
Whatever route you take in the first step above as to your need, you learn that you will purchase either an over the counter, or a prescription medication prescribed by a doctor. The purchase can be made by going to a pharmacy with a phoned in, or written prescription, or purchased online to be delivered to your home. These options can be made for either type, over the counter or prescription medications.
The directions on the package, or the Rx label should be followed in terms of storage and usage to properly manage medications of all types.
As mentioned in the purchase step above, follow the directions on the packaging to learn the proper storage requirements of the medication. Some require a cool, dry environment, others need to be refrigerated, and others may require minimal light.
Find a place in your home that will meet the storage requirements of each medication. A basic organizing principal is to assign a home to an item where you will use it. For over the counter medications that are used on occasion, storage in a medicine cabinet, or a linen closet works well. For prescription medications, many people store them in the kitchen near the sink so they can take them with water.
This step can go hand in hand with the storage step above to manage medications. The directions on the package or the Rx label need to be followed to the letter in terms of storage and more importantly, use. The label will tell you how much to take, and times of day to take the medication.
Storage could come into play in terms of a pill organizer. If you take multiple medications throughout the day, using a pill organizer will help you to remember when to take it, and if you’ve taken a medication at the proper time. Some pill organizers are electronic and have an audible alert to remind you that it’s time to take a medication.
At some point you will need to replenish your supply of medications. Keeping track of your supply helps to manage medications so you don’t run out. Keeping a magnetic pad of paper on your refrigerator is a good way to keep track of supplies that you need to purchase. When you see that you are running low on a medication, put it on the list.
Refill prescription medications at least 1 week before needed to give the pharmacy time to restock if necessary.
This last step in the lifecycle is important to be a good steward of the earth. Medications that are disposed of incorrectly can be detrimental to the earth. They need to be disposed of properly just as much as the packaging needs to be recycled if possible.
Below are some tips for proper disposal/recycling of medications and their packaging to protect the earth and your identity:
- Take unused/expired prescription and over the counter medications to your local police station for safe disposal. Check with them first as not all police stations participate in this practice. If your local police station doesn’t accept them, conduct an internet search to find the closest police department that has this resource.
- Check with your pharmacy to see if they take unused/expired prescription and over the counter medications for safe disposal.
- Please do not flush them down your toilet. As mentioned above, this can be detrimental to the earth.
- Protect your health identity by removing Rx labels on prescription medications, or black them out using a permanent marker as you recycle the containers.