Medication and College Preparation: Why students need to practice self-sufficency

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It happened again today. I met with a student who does not function well in school unless he takes the medication he ought to take. Unfortunately, he tends to forget to take his meds. This is a regularly reoccurring scenario. I’ve thought about it and realize that there is one  most common reasons this occurs; the student lacks practice being self-sufficient with taking their medication.

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When a child is young then parents must oversee their medication: getting the child to the doctor, getting the prescription filled, making sure the child takes the medicine are all responsibilities of the care giver and cannot be left to the child. At some point though, a transition needs to take place as the child grows; unfortunately most families wait for the the student’s move to college and then the child is suddenly thrust into the role of being independent. With all the other transition pieces taking place – new room, new food, new people – this is not an ideal time to adapt to the new routine of taking medication unsupervised and without reminders.

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Those families who do think to have their children start practicing being independent when it comes to taking medication have given their students one more tool in the kit that will help them to successfully make the transition to college.

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I suggest that families work on developing a routine for maintaining medication schedules before the student leaves home for college. For example, have the young adult practice filling a weekly pill holder at the same time each week; keep the pill holder in a drawer that the young person opens each day, like a sock or shirt drawer — remember that at college students cannot count on leaving their medication out in plain sight, as this increases the likelihood that someone will walk off with it. Students require a medication routine that provides daily reminders without having the medicine out in plain sight.

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Another way to create a daily reminder is to have the student program one into their mobile phone, or provide the student with a page-a-day calendar and they do not remove the day’s page until they have taken their medicine.

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There are different ways to create a routine that work for each individual – the most important point is to work on developing this routine before a student is making the already challenging transition to college life.

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