A question that often comes up in the Coumadin® and Warfarin groups is: “How can I remember to take my pill every day?” Here are the ways I remember to take that tiny little pill every day, and you can, too.
Tie Warfarin to a daily routine.
Think about a routine that you never miss, such as brushing your teeth. drinking a glass of water when you wake up, or when getting ready for bed. Now make taking your Coumadin® part of that routine. This is called “habit stacking”. It is the easiest way to create a new habit because it stacks, or links, the new habit to an existing habit.
You should pick a habit that you do at the same time every day because Warfarin should be taken at the same time each day. The full effect of Warfarin takes time to reach the peak effect. When you take your dose at the same time every day, your blood will reflect the full effect of your prescribed dose when you have it tested. Everyone is different, so it can take several days to get your blood into your recommended INR range. Depending on your metabolism, it can take three to five days to reach full effect. I take Warfarin in the evening with my dinner. That is because I take vitamins when I eat, so I am already taking pills. I just add my Coumadin® to my handful of vitamins. Since I have been doing this, I have never missed a dose.
Keep your medicine organized.
A good way to remember the right dose at the right time is to use a pill organizer and set it up in advance. There are many different types of pill organizers, so choose one that helps you organize all your medications, not just warfarin.
You may be required to take different amounts of Warfarin each day. I am. Sometimes I take one tablet; sometimes I take one and a half tablets, and sometimes I take two tablets. When I get my doctor’s order to change the dose, I add or remove tablets from my organizer.
Keep your organizer safely away from children and pets, but in in a place that is visible and close to where you perform the routine you are linking to. That way, you will see it when you reach for your toothbrush or get that glass of water before bed.
If you need help setting up your organizer, ask a relative or trusted friend. This will keep you accountable and create a support system.
Keep a list of your medications, vitamins, and supplements.
Warfarin is a Narrow Therapeutic Index Drug (NTID), which means that very small changes in its effectiveness can cause in serious and life-threatening conditions. It works by blocking Vitamin K, which is converted from the food you eat and used for the blood clotting process.
It is important to keep a record of all the vitamins and supplements you take because many of these contain Vitamin K. Use your record to prepare your organizer for the week. It will be especially important if someone else is setting up your organizer. You can download a free medication organizer from the CoumadinCommandments Downloads page.
Keep a calendar.
Until your Coumadin® habit becomes as routine as brushing your teeth, use a calendar as a visual reminder.
You can use the same calendar to schedule blood tests and track your INR results. You can also note when you should order refills. Most pharmacies fill prescriptions a week before you run out.
If you don’t use paper calendars or post-it notes, there are lots of reminder options for your phone, tablet, and computer. You can use an online calendar, like Google Calendar, that is available on all your devices, so you can keep track of your reminders on the go.
If you want someone to tell you to take your medication, use Alexa (Amazon) or Cortana (Microsoft). Set up a reminder and at the appointed time, they will tell you to take your medication.
For the truly technologically advanced, there are electronic applications that allow you to keep a record of all your medications, set reminders for taking medication and refilling prescriptions, and look up side effects. One of these, the Drugs.com Medication Guide app, is available from Google Play and the Apple App Store. The information you put in this app is private and secure; it is kept on your personal device, only.
When you take your Warfarin tablet and other medication, don’t do it automatically. When you are on autopilot, your unconscious mind is running the show. It is like highway hypnosis when you drive so automatically that you can’t remember the route you took to get to your destination.
When you take Warfarin, do it consciously so you will remember taking it. Be conscious of opening your pill box, pouring a glass of water (or juice), and taking the pill. Then, record it in your calendar so you can be sure you took it.