1. Depend on Grown-up Support Already in Place
Remembering to take medication every day or multiple times during the day can be a challenge for anyone and is even more so for the individual with ADD. When treating young children, it is not generally a big issue because parents, teachers, and school nurses take on the responsibility of giving the medication.
2. Medicate Parents First
The exception is when one or both parents also have ADD and then forgetting to have their children take the medication becomes another symptom of untreated ADD. This is one of the reasons I prefer to diagnose and treat the parents first when a parent-child combo comes to my office for help.
3. Give Adolescents FULL Responsibility
As children get older and move into adolescence and adulthood, assuming full responsibility for remembering to take the medication needs to be a top priority. I often encourage parents to use responsible taking of the medication as a “ticket of admission” to other important big life privileges like driving a car or going out with friends. In fact, my words to my own son were: “If I can’t trust you to take the medication without reminders, then how can I trust you to make the difficult right decisions out in the world?”
4. Develop an Established Daily Routine
The single most important tool in remembering to take medication is helping the ADD individual to develop an established daily routine for sleeping, eating, exercise, and other activities of daily living. In the context of a structured daily routine, it becomes easy to find times to consistently take medication. For example, a three-times-a-day medication regimen of short-acting stimulants can be tied to mealtimes. A once-a-day medication like Strattera can always be taken with breakfast or dinner. The most difficult medication administration schedules to structure are the twice-a-day regimen required for the long-acting stimulants. The key again is to try to tie taking the medication into another regularly occurring activity.
One suggestion often made to ADD individuals is to use devices such as timers, watches, or pill containers with timers and buzzers. In theory, these tools should work, but our experience has been that they often become just one more thing to deal with, lose, or forget. Ultimately, the successful use of these tools is also dependent on the establishment of a structured daily routine – to set the timer, fill the container, etc. So, we put the focus on the establishment of a daily routine.
5. Commit to Using Medication
Finally, when it comes to consistently taking the medication, it is critical that the individual is truly committed to the use of medication. Sometimes what appears to be a problem remembering to take medication is really a problem with acceptance of the ADD diagnosis and the need to take medication in order to function effectively and behave appropriately. Under such circumstances, support with acceptance is more important than any reminder system.
What tips, tricks, reminders, or advice help you remember your ADD/ADHD medication?