You may ask: what is the use of making a resolution only to end up abandoning it three weeks later? Well, perhaps you have always chosen resolutions that are difficult to keep. Here is a new one you are likely to keep if you choose to take your rightful place on your treating team: take your medication as prescribed!
The objective of this resolution is not to turn you into a robot that docilely swallows pills every morning. Quite the opposite! It aims to truly implicate you in taking charge of your health and wellbeing.
Your physician, dentist or pharmacist is not here to judge or evaluate you. Health professionals are here to help you take charge of your health and point you in the right direction. You will most certainly find yourself at a bit of a loss when confronted with the technology they use, the complex medical terminology and the knowledge they have. Well, who wouldn’t?! It is also quite normal to be apprehensive about a diagnosis or signs and symptoms you are currently experiencing. The most important things to remember when you are meeting with health professionals are: ask questions about the things that worry you and state your fears and reticence about the proposed treatment. We are talking about your health here so you must do this!
You are the most valuable member of your treating team and you have to remember that! In fact, you alone make the decision to consult a health professional, to fill your prescription, to renew it every month, to adhere to the treatment or to modify the dose to try and diminish the side effects. These examples quite clearly illustrate your active role as “the patient”.
It is very important that you maintain a good line of communication with your treating health professionals. They should be able to answer your questions and clarify all your qualms and queries. The entire process may be very confusing but you must insist! In return, they require your input as to the constraints you may anticipate or if you actually want to go ahead with the treatment they recommend. Furthermore, if you are experiencing side effects, never hesitate to bring them up, as your physician may be able to adjust the treatment to try and minimize them. If you do not share this information, your health professional may think he or she is treating you when you have in fact diminished or stopped treatment three months ago or lowered the daily dose by half! This is serious business!
Scientific jargon calls the active collaborative process between the patient and health professionals “treatment adherence”. The non-adherence to treatment is very costly, as much for the healthcare system as it is for the patient. Medical consultations, diagnosis equipment or the follow-up of the evolution of a disease and medications they require become a lot more expensive when they are inadequately used.
A non-optimal treatment, or inadequate follow-up, may have serious consequences. Dutch researchers evaluated that a person who stops taking a statin, a medication currently prescribed to lower bad cholesterol, runs a 30% greater risk of suffering from a heart attack! The benefits from these types of medications do not persist when you stop taking them; they require long-term use and most often, for an entire lifetime! It is estimated that more than half of the patients who are prescribed a statin will stop taking it after two years. The main reasons for premature treatment abortion: fear of side effects and the perception that the treatment is not at all physically beneficial. These problems may be resolved if both patient and physician take a few minutes to sit down and discuss the matter openly.
Many medications are now part of our daily lives and can greatly increase our quality of life if they are used properly, but it is and will always be up to us. Health professionals such as your pharmacist are precious members of your treating team and only want to help better your wellbeing. They truly appreciate it if you take your health seriously and implicate yourself in your treatment.
Does this resolution sound easy to keep? Think about it carefully because after all, it all rests in your hands.