Harvard Women's Health Watch

Ask the doctor: How do I organize my pills?

Q. My doctor recently added a couple of medications to my regimen. I am now taking enough pills every day that I need a system to keep them organized so I don't make mistakes. What do you recommend?

A. Taking prescribed medications properly is one of the most important things you can do to maintain your health and manage your medical problems, but for a lot of us it's also one of the hardest things to get right—especially as the number of pills you take increases.

One option is to have a pharmacy package your medications for you. Not all pharmacies provide this service, but your primary care doctor will likely know which ones in your area do offer it. Some pharmacies provide this service for free. Others may charge a nominal fee. Pharmacies use various systems to organize pills, including bubble packs, cassettes, and strip packaging. In each system, the pharmacy groups your morning, afternoon, dinner, and bedtime pills, so that all you have to do is open the packaging at the appropriate time of day and take all the pills. The medicine will come labeled so you'll know which ones you are taking, but you won't have to handle or organize them.

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