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Managing Your Medications

Keeping track of your medications and taking them correctly can make a noticeable difference in your Parkinson’s symptoms.

If you are in the early stages of PD, you may find it very easy to keep track of your medications. Taking a pill late, even by an hour, does not disrupt the medication’s effects.

However, if you have been receiving treatment for 5 years or more, you may find it much more complicated. You may have many more medications to keep track of and effective relief from your symptoms may depend on following a carefully regulated schedule of medication doses. If you miss a dose, your symptoms may often be unpredictable and can fluctuate daily.

There are several ways for people with Parkinson’s to achieve the greatest possible benefit from their medications – and it’s possible to do by finding a routine that fits your needs and your lifestyle.  In addition to reading this section, to become familiar with your medications and their side effects, you may first want to read the Medications page, in the Understanding Parkinson's section of the site.

Questions to Ask About Your Medications

To ensure you take your medications correctly, ask yourself these questions:

  • How long does it take for a pill to work?
  • How long does it last?
  • Should my pills be taken with food, between meals or on an empty stomach?
  • How do I feel when medication starts to wear off?

The answers to these questions can help explain how the pill works and possibly increase "on" time. (“On” time is used to refer to the time when your symptoms are minimal. “Off” denotes the period when your symptoms are more noticeable).  Again, to understand your medications better, browse the Medications page, which includes charts listing side effects.

How Your Pharmacist Can Help

Working with one pharmacist for all prescriptions can help people with Parkinson’s know what medications they are taking, when and why.

A pharmacist will note all of the medications a person is taking in a computer, which safeguards them from any interactions. Another way to obtain this information is by constructing a medication chart. Download a sample chart.

The chart should include information such as the medication's name, the strength and a time schedule of when it should be taken. This chart can help the patient and/or caregiver easily recognize the medication and decreases the chance of a missed dose. People with Parkinson's can also share this chart with a neurologist to make sure both parties are clear on what is being taken and why.

Sometimes a pharmacist may advise that you should not take a certain medication because of the contraindications noted in the pharmacy database. However, there may be more detailed data on whether a medication is acceptable or unacceptable that the neurologist is considering - which is perhaps why he or she is prescribing it anyway. So it is important to check with the neurologist if a pharmacist has a concern about a medications contraindication. In many cases the neurologist's information will be based on more specific detailed research as it pertains to PD.

Organizational Devices

Timing devices can be crucial in helping you to avoid missed doses of your different medications.

There are devices available on the market such as: talking systems, beeping watches and multi-alarm timers, which are widely available. These systems can be both discreet or loud (with vibrating or sound features), depending on your preference.

Pill dispensers can help you to organize pills by day and time to eliminate carrying several large prescription bottles with you.

Learn More by Reading:

Related Resources from the PD Resource List

Understanding Parkinson's Medications
Category: Medications
Resource Type: Publications
Publication Date: 2012
Author: Parkinson's Disease Foundation
Publisher: Parkinson's Disease Foundation
Cost: Free
Toll Free: (800) 457-6676
Email: info@pdf.org
Associated URL: www.pdf.org/en/factsheets
Address: 1359 Broadway, Suite 1509
City: New York
Language: English
State: New York
This fact sheet provides an overview of the medications currently available for Parkinson's disease and their side effects.

Parkinson's Medication Log
Category: Medications
Resource Type: Publications
Publication Date: 2012
Author: Parkinson's Disease Foundation
Publisher: Parkinson's Disease Foundation
Cost: Free
Toll Free: (800) 457-6676
Email: info@pdf.org
Associated URL: www.pdf.org/en/factsheets
Address: 1359 Broadway, Suite 1509
City: New York
Language: English
State: New York
This log will help you keep track of your Parkinson's medications.

US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
Category: Medications
Resource Type: Websites
Toll Free: (888) 463-6332
Associated URL: www.fda.gov
Language: English
This government agency is responsible for overseeing the approval of new drugs, offering and approving drug specific information, acting as an overseeing body of product problems, reviewing and relaying safety alerts and monitoring and sharing post market study drug safety information.

 See all Resources Related to Medications