Keeping tabs on which medications you need to take or have taken, as well as which procedures you’ve undergone, and when, is difficult enough, but as you get older, the number of routine check ups that you have also goes up dramatically, so it’s worth trying to keep all the information organised.
Write down your basic health care information
Your blood type, allergies, medication list and emergency contact details should be written down somewhere and kept on you, if possible. You can also write those things down and email the information to someone close to you. To make keeping notes of your health easier, get a calendar with space to write in each day and use that only for medical/health-related notes.
Access your medical records
If you’re not sure what your blood type is or what medications you’re taking, put in a written request, called a Subject Access Request (SAR), to your GP, dentist or optician. Under the Data Protection Act from 1998 everyone in the UK is entitled to see their medical records. There may be a fee to get hold of your records but new guidelines may make accessing information online free in future. (If you need help, go to http://www.myhealth.london.nhs.uk/sites/default/files/u3246/ItsYourRecord.pdf to find out more about accessing your data.)
List supplements as well as medication
While prescribed medication is obviously most important to take note of, it’s also essential that you write out what other over-the-counter meds you take too. If you go on a diet or start taking a new supplement, it’s also a good idea to take note of it. If something changes in terms of your health or wellbeing, it’s handy to be able to see if it could be linked to something you’re eating.
Be aware of physical and psychological changes to your health
Make a note of any time you notice changes in yourself, physically or psychologically. These could be related to medicines you’re taking and if you make a note of when these changes occur, it could prove very useful to your GP who could prescribe something different, if necessary.
Download a free app to help you keep track of medicines
To help yourself remember when to take medications, it’s helpful to use a calendar, as mentioned above, but you can also download an app. There are various apps available, some free, which send you alerts when it’s time to take a medication, as well as allowing you to log details such as side effects. See MedCoach Medication Reminder and Pill Monitor Free, for example.
Always ask for a copy after a scan or test
Any time you get a scan or some other test, ask if you can have a copy of the results. That way, you’re less likely to get charged a copy fee if you ask for one after the event.
Make your health information easy for your loved ones to access
If you should become ill and unable to communicate well, friends or family will be able to access your records, making taking care of you much easier. So make sure that however you keep your records someone else knows where they are kept. If they’re electronic make sure others know the relevant passwords or file names. That way it will be easy for them to access them and hand them over to a doctor, if needs be.