Tips for remembering to take your medicine

Medication and the festive seasonChristmas can be a busy time of the year for most families. While squeezing in those last minute jobs, it is important not to forget our daily routines and importantly remembering to take your medication.

Some strategies to help you remember to take your medication include:

  • Take your medication at the same time every day;
  • Link taking your medication with another activity in your day. For example, take your medication before or after breakfast, before or after brushing your teeth, etc;
  • Store your medications where they are easily visible, although out of reach of children;
  • Set reminders on your mobile phone;
  • Include taking your medication on your to-do list for the day;
  • Make use of pill boxes or Webster packages which have medications grouped into days and times. That way you will know if you have missed a dose;
  • Write a reminder note and stick it on the back of the bathroom, front door or another place where you are likely to see it.

If you do forget to take your medication, it is best to continue with your medication as prescribed and seek advice from your prescribing doctor or an alternative doctor as soon as possible. Depending on what medication you are taking and how many doses you missed, you may need increased subsequent doses, blood tests, or no action at all. Do NOT double up on your next dose unless you have been advised to do so by your doctor. This is important as some drugs are toxic if you take more than your prescribed dose.

Medication on holidays

Medication and the festive seasonIf you are going away for the holidays, remember to take enough medications to last you while you are away. It may be helpful to take the medication packaging with your prescription details with you, or a list of your medications and the dose, in case you do require more. This way the doctor will know exactly which medications you are taking and the dose to prescribe.

If changing time zones, speak to your doctor or pharmacist before travelling for advice on how to manage your medications.

If travelling out of Australia, be sure to keep your medicines in their original packaging with your prescription and a letter from your doctor outlining these medications and what they are for.

Medication storage

Most medications need to be stored in cool conditions away from heat and direct sunlight. The storage requirements of most medications are written on their packaging, or on the information leaflet enclosed within. Alternatively, ask your pharmacist for advice. If your medication needs to be kept cool, refrigerated bags are a great idea while travelling.

Getting more of your medication over the festive season

Like most other professions, doctors take time off over Christmas and New Year too. So it is important to ring your doctor and find out if they will be practising over the holidays. It is also important to check the days and times that the doctors’ offices are open, as these may change over the holiday period. You local chemist may also change its opening hours over the holiday period.

If you take regular medications, make sure you have enough to last you over the holiday period. If not, see your doctor earlier rather than later for a new or repeat prescription. For most drugs, these are valid for 12 months from the date of issue.

Generally the post-holiday period is very busy and doctor appointments can be scarce. If you require an appointment with your doctor in the post-holiday period for repeat prescriptions or other reasons, it is best to book this appointment early, before the festive season, to ensure one is available for you.

Be aware of alternative forms of health care advice:

  • Health Direct, a free 24 hour health information service: 1800 022 222
  • Medication and the festive seasonAfter hours GP clinics
  • Emergency departments


The festive season is a time when many people like to indulge in a little alcohol. If you are thinking about having a celebratory drink, check with your doctor to make sure it will not interact with your medications.

More information

Festive health For more information on health during the festive season, including sleep, diet, exercise and stress, see Festive Health.

(Kindly reviewed by Dr Joe Kosterich MBBS, General Practitioner and member of the Virtual Medical Centre GP Editorial Advisory Board.)


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