5 Steps to Manage Medications During the Holidays

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From busy schedules to visitors and travel to the stress of family gatherings, the holiday season can get overwhelming. This time of year brings added challenges for those managing multiple medications. Parties involving alcohol can reduce the effectiveness of certain medications or create additional complications. The holidays can also be a lonely time, leading many to forego medication treatment in moments of despair and depression.  And family gatherings at different times and changes in time zones can offset medication doses that require a regimented schedule.

The hurried spirit of the winter holidays inevitably leads to poor medication adherence, creating potential complications and health issues for those who rely on medication treatment. And in a year where COVID-19 continues to upend seasonal traditions, remining vigilant on maintenance medications is exceptionally important. Below are five simple tips to help manage medications during the holidays:

Set a schedule. Travel and visitors, parties and gatherings, they are the makings of the holidays. But it can also wreak havoc on medications that must be taken on a regular schedule. For patients who may be traveling, it can be hard to stay updated on meds when crossing counties or time zones. Be sure to set a schedule and stick to it. Instead of breakfast and dinner, set actual times of day to stay consistent and reduce the risk of a missed dose.

Ask others for help. Having a buddy remind you or help ensure you take a regular medication can serve as a back-up plan during the busy holiday season. If you are staying with family or away from your normal setting, share your medication schedule with others so they can help you stay on track. No one wants to encounter a medical emergency during the holidays, especially if regular medication use can prevent it.

Beware of the risks. The holiday season often means more sweets, treats, and drinks. Yet certain foods and alcohol can impact the effectiveness of a medication. It may seem easier to skip a dose, and enjoy a cocktail, but this could lead to a dangerous pattern where multiple missed doses can lead to worsening of a chronic condition and a life-threatening scenario. It may be more beneficial to opt for a mocktail and stay compliant on medication therapy well into the New Year.

Use a digital companion. The pandemic has brought about increased use of digital health tools to help patients manage their health. The holidays are the perfect time to download a digital companion to stay compliant. Medisafe offers a free digital companion that guides users on when to take medications, helps to monitor and prompt users, and provides free resources on medication use and managing numerous medical conditions. In the event a dose is missed, a digital companion can prompt a user, notify other contacts, and even share info with medical providers to ensure a patient isn’t overlooked in the event of an emergency.

Stay updated on refills. During the hustle and bustle of the holidays, there are many more tasks added to the to-do list. As a result, it may become easier to skip a medication or forego it altogether once a prescription runs out. Instead of waiting, opt for automatic refills and call in refills before in travel. Be proactive in obtaining your medications and be sure to pack extras if traveling out of town. By having plenty of medications on hand, you can rest easy knowing one more item is checked off your list.

Adherence to medication therapy is critical to treatment success. During the holidays, and especially during a pandemic, there are a number of factors that can affect a medication schedule. And while one missed dose can happen on occasion, prolonged medication nonadherence can lead to substantial worsening of disease, death and increased health care costs. Be sure to make a plan, and account for obstacles this holiday season to help stay committed to a medication schedule. Planning ahead and following some simple steps can reduce the anxiety of managing a chronic condition and allow for more time spent in the season of joy.