Taking Medications: Establishing a Routine


By Melinda Maryniuk, MEd, RD, CDE

Taking  diabetes medicines as prescribed is probably the single most important thing a person can do to manage their diabetes.  Eating a healthy meal plan and getting regular exercise are certainly important – but if someone is not taking their medicines, all the other good things they are doing will not work as well.

If you have trouble remembering to take your medicines from time to time – know that you are not alone!  There are several things you can do to help you be successful.  It’s important to: establish a routine, keep good records and talk with your healthcare provider. 

Establish a routine:

It’s common to forget to take medicines.  Using reminder aids can help.  Here are some tips that many people find helpful:

  • Link taking medicines to other daily activities – such as eating breakfast or dinner, or brushing your teeth.
  • Set your phone alarm.This can serve as a daily medication reminder.  Choose a special ring tone so you’ll quickly remember what it’s for. Set it up to ring daily. 
  • Turn your pill bottle upside down. After you’ve taking your daily dose, flip over the bottle.  At the end of the day turn them right side up to be ready for the next day.
  • Use a pill box. Sort your different medicines into compartments so you know exactly what to take on each day.   So pill boxes are split into morning evening doses.  Look at the options and choose the one that is best for you. Just make sure that each of your medicines is OK to go in a pill box… as it’s not recommended for all medications.
  • Use an app. Consider one of free options:  MyMeds, Medisafe or Mango Health

Keep good records:

Keep track of your medicines on this handy chart (or a pocket size notebook).  Share this information with your spouse as well as your healthcare provider.  Often medicines can be prescribed by different providers and they may not always know what other medicines or supplements have been prescribed. Be sure to also include any supplements (herbs, vitamins, etc.) that you take on a regular basis so that your healthcare team and pharmacist is aware of all of the medicines / supplements you’re currently taking. To download a copy of our medication log click here

Talk with your healthcare provider and pharmacist:

If you are having trouble remembering to take all the medicines you’ve been prescribed or if you are experiencing side effects, be sure to talk with your physician or healthcare provider.  There might be an extended release pill, or a combination medicine that can help. 

Special reminders if you take injections:

  • Inject in different locations – and not the same spot every day. Rotate between the abdomen, the fattier part of your upper arm, your outer thigh and buttocks. 
  • Insulin that is in use can be kept at room temperature. You only need to store unopened vials or pens in the refrigerator.
  • Don’t use any injected medicine past the expiration date.