Jan: Routines with multiple medicines – Disruptions to medication routines

Listen to patients and health professionals speak about their experience with taking multiple medicines.

Age at interview: Undisclosed
Number of medicines: 15
Cultural background: Anglo-Australian

It’s very clear in Jan’s mind how many tablets she needs to take every morning and this helps her with her routine. She only finds it difficult to remember her medicines when she is really ill.

I guess I've just got them situated in the kitchen in places where I see them and it's so routine for me now to know that, in the mornings, there are sort of basically five tablets I should have taken. If there's not five sitting in the little pile, I know that I've forgotten something. And when I go to get a couple of them out of the fridge, I also see the bottle of omega 3 that's in liquid form and so that reminds me that that's part of what I've got to do as well. And I take four vitamin D3s a week and three multivitamins a week, so that I [know] then it's always five, every day, every morning. 

And the calciums I take later in the day, I leave the calcium bottle sitting out so that, if I haven't taken them when I have been out, because I take some with me, they're sitting out on the kitchen bench when I get home and I have to think, ‘Well, did I take some earlier or not?’ And if I didn't, I take them. 

The Symbicort, as I said, reminds me itself anyway, because if I don't take it, I know. I take that at night with a Protos and I just know that there's two medications I take at night. So, it's fairly straightforward. Except when I am very ill, as I have been on some occasions, I ... particularly before the pneumonia was properly dealt with, I would sometimes be so sick for so long that I would just have trouble concentrating on things and I would have to work really hard sometimes, at remembering, so I can imagine what it must be like for people who are very ill, whose levels of concentration are not as they would normally be. 

It would be difficult, perhaps, to remember everything in the way that I find relatively easy now, but if I was feeling as exhausted as I've sometimes felt in the past from being sick over long periods, it does get hard to remember routine things. You just have trouble getting through, you know, getting out of bed and doing things you've got to do. And I have, at times, had difficulty remembering what I've taken and whether I've taken everything.

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The Living with multiple medicines project was developed in collaboration with Healthtalk Australia.