Manage Your Medications

Do you find it challenging to keep track of your Parkinson's medications?

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

However, if you have been receiving treatment for five 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.

But taking medications correctly can make a significant difference in Parkinson's symptoms. And there are several ways for people with Parkinson’s to achieve the greatest possible benefit from their medications.

In addition to reading this section, to become familiar with your medications and their side effects, you may first want to read the Medications section of our 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).  

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 log. You can download and print PDF's sample log here.

The log includes information such as the medication's name, the strength and a time schedule of when it should be taken. This chart can help the person with PD and his or her care partner to 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 medication's 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.

Next: Using Your Pharmacy Wisely