12 Keys to Sticking With Your Diabetes Meds

Staying on top of your treatment plan is crucial to managing diabetes. Here’s how to maintain your routine.

Woman taking her diabetes medication

If you have diabetes, you may need to take medication to help you keep your blood glucose steady. And since diabetes increases your risk for other conditions—like high blood pressure, high cholesterol and kidney-related problems—you may need to take meds for those issues, too. Here are 12 simple strategies to help you make sure you never miss a dose.

Know what you’re taking

1. Quiz your diabetes educator about the medications you’re taking. Specifically ask:

  • Why am I taking this?
  • How does this drug work?
  • How can I fit taking these medications into my schedule?
  • What are the potential side effects to look out for?

If you have a full understanding of the health benefits—and the ins and outs—of the meds in your cabinet, you’re more likely to stay true to your regimen.

2. Pick one provider on your care team to oversee all of your diabetes medications. That way you’ll avoid the kind of miscommunication that may lead to your having prescriptions for two drugs that do the same thing. Also, if possible, fill all of your prescriptions at the same pharmacy to avoid potential redundancies.

Create reminders

3. Fixing breakfast for the kids? Brushing your teeth? Take your pills or morning insulin injection at the same time. Linking your medicines with an already-established daily routine can help you stay on track with your meds.

4. Schedule reminders on your cell phone to ping you to take your meds, or place sticky notes on your refrigerator or other can’t-miss locations.

Stay organized

5. Establish a regular day and time for placing a week’s worth of pills into a pill organizer. For larger amounts, try a stack of plastic containers.

6. Label pill bottles with stickers of different colors to distinguish between nighttime and daytime doses.

Excuse-proof your Rx regimen

7. Avoid missing a dose by getting medication refills at least four days before running out. Better yet, enroll in a free medication refill program to make sure you never run low on your meds. You can receive a call or text when your prescriptions are ready for pickup.

8. Ask your pharmacist to sync up your prescriptions so that you can pick up refills for several drugs together, once or twice a month. Otherwise, if you’re constantly beating a path to the pharmacy to pick up a refill, you’re setting yourself up for Rx fatigue—and before you know it, you could start slipping on taking all your prescriptions.

9. If you have arthritis or numbness in your fingers (due to neuropathy), ask for a non-childproof cap, which can simplify bottle opening. Another option: Switch to easier-to-open blister packs.

10. If you experience side effects, talk to your pharmacist, doctor, nurse practitioner or diabetes educator right away about what to do.

11. Prescription costs can add up, so talk to your pharmacist, nurse or diabetes educator about how to get the best deals on medications. Pharmaceutical companies often provide medication coupons to patients. You can also often save money by using the mail-order benefit your insurance company may offer. Another option: Check out the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) Prescription Savings Directory to find programs that can help you afford your meds.

12. If you often forget to take your medications, ask your health care provider if it’s possible to simplify your dosing regimen. You can also enlist a family member to remind you when it’s time to dose.

Missed doses of your medication can result in poorly managed blood glucose, blood pressure or lipids. But by incorporating tips like these into your routine, you can keep organized—and stay ahead of the curve on managing your diabetes.

Medically reviewed in September 2020.

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