General health

The battle against forgetfulness

In the second of a series of blogs, we look at the biggest reason why treatments fail.

As we examined in our last blog, not following the instructions which a patient has agreed with a medical professional has huge implications for both the health of patients and precious NHS resources which could be otherwise used to help frontline services. The medical term for this phenomenon is ‘non-adherence’, and the main reason for it is simply forgetting to take the medicine.

Now, as somebody who has almost certainly misplaced my car keys this morning, this certainly feels like a tricky (and for my partner, depressingly recurrent) condition to master. Even if it is completely unintentional, how on Earth do you remember not to forget?

Luckily, we’re going to take a closer look at why people don’t comply with their doctor’s orders and what you can do to help improve the chance of a successful treatment.

Why forgetting is easy

People may not take their medication as prescribed for a variety of reasons. They could unexpectedly run out of their medication, acting too late to ensure a top-up. The medication might then be unavailable at their local pharmacy. They may also struggle with the directions or experience difficulties in taking the medication (e.g. swallowing tablets).

However, the most common reason is forgetting to take your medicine. This is often caused by a lack of attention or failure of the memory. The reason most people claim to forget to take their medicine is down to our ever busier schedules. Forgetfulness is also likely to affect those who are new to taking repeat medication or elderly/vulnerable patients. This can be serious as it means the course of treatment may not work as it should.

Top tips to remember

The most valuable piece of advice is to make taking your medicine part of your daily routine. It’s much easier to remember to take your medicine if it’s done together with other everyday activities. This ‘grouping’ of activities is known as ‘chunking’ and it’s all about the human brain’s need to find patterns.

If you need to take your medication in the morning, you can group it with other similar actions such as getting dressed, brushing your teeth and eating breakfast.

You could also try to set yourself reminders. As part of our free service, Pharmacy2U will contact you when it’s time to order a top-up of your medication. However, you could set an alarm on your phone, write a prompt in a diary. You could even schedule yourself an email and get a blast from the past, right to your phone!  

What happens when you forget

All may not be lost if you forget to take your medicine at the agreed time. Make sure to read the instructions of your medication carefully as there may be a small window of time in which you can still take the medicine (e.g. a couple of hours). If this allowance has passed, contact your pharmacist or GP to establish the next steps. If you completely forget to take a tablet one day, don’t take two the next day – ask for advice first.

Handy reminder service

We also offer a free reminder service, so you’ll know exactly when it’s time to order more medication and don’t need to worry about running out again.

Also, a good tip for finding lost car keys is to retrace your steps. It doesn’t explain why they were in the recycling bin but still – a win!

Pharmacy2U By Pharmacy2U Published 21/06/2019