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Be Well, Think Well: General Medication Management

Cartoon rendering of various medications.

Preparing for a Medication Check

Medication checks are usually short appointments with a doctor or nurse practitioner. It can be very helpful for you, your family, and the doctor to prepare for the office visit ahead of time.

Some things you might want to think about before, and possibly in the appointment, are listed below:

    • Write down a few concerns that you and/or your family want to be sure to discuss with the clinician.
    • Think about any questions for the clinician about the effects of any medications that are being taken.
    • Talk about any changes that have been noted in symptoms since the last visit.
    • Tell your doctor about any troublesome symptoms that you have noticed. These symptoms may possibly be side effects of the medication.
    • Ask questions about how to take the medicine. Questions can include what time of day, amount of medication, should the medication be taken with food, etc. You or your family may even bring the bottle(s) along to the appointment.
    • Notes on any problems with taking the medication (times it has been missed, any difficulty taking it or in receiving it from the pharmacy, etc).
    • If you have changed to a new pharmacy to fill prescriptions, bring the name, address and phone number of the pharmacy.
    • Any information about changes in your medical conditions or any allergies to medications that the clinician hasn’t heard previously.

Additional tips for family members if the person is not able to participate in appointments on their own:

If your family member has difficulties with sitting in doctor’s waiting rooms or with doctor’s appointments in general, it is a good idea to call the doctor or office staff a day or two before the appointment to discuss these issues. Often the office can put plans in place to make the visit go as smoothly as possible. If possible, one thing that can be very helpful is for both the usual support person and one or two family members to accompany the patient to the appointment.

How Long Will I Need to Take Medication?

Many things can change how long you will need to take medicine.

What is medicine treating?

Your doctor will think about what your symptoms are, how severe they are, and how long the symptoms have been bothering you, in deciding which medications to choose and how long you may need to take them. Generally, more mild symptoms that have only been difficult for a brief amount of time will require a shorter time to respond to the medication. The length of time you may need the medication will also likely be briefer. If the symptoms are more difficult, and/or have been present for many months or years, it will often take longer for them to clear completely. In this case, the doctor will usually want you to take the medication for at least several months, and possibly a number of years, once the symptoms have gone away for the best chance to have them not return.

How well is the medicine working?

If the medicine is definitely improving the symptoms, the doctor may suggest the person keep taking it. If the medicine does not seem to be helping, the doctor may talk about increasing the dose, stopping the medication or trying a different medicine.

Are there any side effects?

There is a chance for all medicine to have side effects. Side effects are the other effects medications sometimes cause in addition to the intended actions. Not everybody will have side effects. Sometimes these side effects go away after a few days while others last the whole time a person is taking the medicine. If you do not have any side effects or the side effects are small compared to how well the medication is working, the doctor may ask you to keep taking the medicine. If the side effects are a big problem, however, the doctor may suggest using less of the medicine, stopping it, or trying a different medicine.

Are there other treatments?

When a professional helps someone with his or her problems, we call it treatment. There are many different treatments to help people manage their symptoms, including medication, talk and behavioral therapy, group therapy, anger management, and others. These treatments can be very important in helping someone to feel better. If another treatment, such as therapy, is working well, your doctor may suggest using less medicine or stopping it. You should talk to your doctor if you want to try other treatments or change your medicine.

Can I stop the medication on my own?

You may decide you no longer want to be on medication, because either you are feeling better or perhaps it is not working the way you hoped. While it may be tempting simply to stop the medication, it is very important to discuss this with your doctor. Many medications have severe side effects when stopped suddenly. Even if your doctor disagrees with you coming off the medication, he or she will still help you to stop it safely if that is your desire.

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Other downloads

Name Description Type File
Preparing for a Medication Check This resource provides information about preparing for a medication check. pdf Download file: Preparing for a Medication Check
How Long Will I Need to Take Medication? This resource provides information about some of the things your doctor will think about when deciding how long you will need to take medicine. pdf Download file: How Long Will I Need to Take Medication?

This information was developed by the Autism Services, Education, Resources, and Training Collaborative (ASERT). For more information, please contact ASERT at 877-231-4244 or info@PAautism.org. ASERT is funded by the Bureau of Supports for Autism and Special Populations, PA Department of Human Services.