Q&A: the importance of getting Parkinson's medication on time

Medication is a key part of managing Parkinson’s symptoms and getting your medication at the right time is important.

The Parkinson’s UK Get It On Time campaign calls on all UK hospitals and care homes to ensure every person with Parkinson’s receives their medication on time, every time.

We caught up with Parkinson’s nurse Patsy Cotton who answers some of your questions on the topic. 

 

Patsy Cotton Photo
By Patsy Cotton
Parkinson's Nurse Specialist

 

Why is it important that people with Parkinson’s get their medication on time?

Most drug treatments for Parkinson’s work by topping up dopamine in the brain or acting as a substitute for dopamine. Without enough dopamine, the symptoms of Parkinson’s appear. 

So if someone with Parkinson’s doesn’t get their medication on time, every time, this can mean their symptoms are not well controlled and it is more difficult to manage day to day.

How can I remember to take my Parkinson’s medication on time?

There are lots of things you can do to help you get your medication on time. 

For example, you could:

  • set an alarm on your phone or smart watch

  • get a family member to call you at the right time or arrange care visits around when you need to take your medication

  • use a pill box with sections for each day and time. You pharmacist can advise on the different ones available and we also sell them on the Parkinson’s UK shop

Talk to your Parkinson’s nurse if you are struggling to remember to take your medication. They can work with you to reschedule your treatment regime so that it fits around you.

If I forget to take a dose of medication, what should I do?

  • If you forget to take your dose, take it as soon as you remember and then adjust the time of your next dose. For example, if you normally take doses at 8am, 12pm, 4pm and 8pm and you forget your midday dose until 2pm, take it then and adjust your next doses to 6pm and 10pm.

  • Do not take two doses together to make up for a dose that you forgot to take or take your late dose really close to your next one. This is because you might experience side effects including nausea or dizziness.

  • If you are taking a once daily medication and you forget a dose, you can still take the dose if you remember on the same day. But, if you don’t remember until the following day you shouldn’t double up your dose.

  • If you forget your medication you may experience increased Parkinson’s symptoms. It can happen on the same day or the day after, so make sure you are careful about driving your car or using machinery.

I am going into hospital for a planned admission and I want to make sure I get my medication on time, how can I do this?

Many hospitals will allow you to take your medication yourself during your stay. You can check this before you are admitted. Some hospitals don’t allow patients to take their own medication and it has to be given to you by the ward nurse. If this is the case in the hospital you are going to make sure they know that you need your medication at times which are specific to you and your condition. Your Parkinson’s nurse could help you arrange this.

When you go into hospital for a planned operation, you will often have a meeting to discuss your needs, known as a pre-operation assessment. This is a good time to tell medical staff that you need your medication at specific times and that you can’t miss a dose.

Get It On Time campaign

"I know that in some hospitals people with Parkinson’s aren’t getting their medication on time. As a Parkinson's nurse specialist with 20 years experience, I am determined to change that." Patsy, Parkinson's Nurse Specialist