Paperwork: If life gets too hard to swallow, get yourself a planner

I have stopped using weekly planners.

Oh, I have to-do lists, but I’m retired. So I can ignore lists and my phone calendar. Mostly.

However, there’s one planning device I can’t ignore. You could even say it’s a lifesaver.

It’s plastic, measuring about 8 x 3.75 inches. That’s twice the size it used to be because it has 14 little compartments instead of the seven I started with. That’s a compartment for each day of the week, covering two weeks.

That’s right – a pill organizer. Each compartment is labeled by the day: MON, TUES, WED, etc. I have a row of days for a.m. and another for p.m. I take all my pills once a day, and I fill up those trays to cover a two-week period.

If you don’t have one, you will.

The cases come in many sizes and shapes and pretty colors. All designed to make sure you take your pills on time, as expected. (Hey, you don’t have to be old to find yourself mumbling, “Did I take my pills today?”)

They hold a lot of pills. (That’s a good thing, unfortunately.)

I’m a healthy guy, but I gulp down eight pills every day. One of those is a pill I split. (Oh, yeah, a pill splitter is another tool you’ll be wanting someday.)

That seems like a lot of meds to swallow, but I know others who take more. Note: only three of mine are prescribed. The rest is over-the-counter stuff like vitamins and supplements.

There’s a pill for whatever ails you. Or whatever you imagine might ail you. (The snake oil medicine wagon is still around, folks.)

I can’t remember when I started this pill thing. My meds are not that uncommon: blood pressure, cholesterol, acid reflux. Pretty basic stuff these days. I fought it as long as I could, but those lab work numbers don’t lie.

Each new pill I am told to add feels like another nail in the ... well, you know. And silly me, I always ask, “How long will I have to take this?”

The answer is always the same: “Forever.”

I know this is an aging thing, but I bet it’s more than that. We learn about the convenience of popping pills at an early age. Like I said, whatever ails you ...

A quick search online tells me the average older adult takes four or more prescription drugs each day, and 39% of seniors take five or more prescriptions each day.

Then I read this: “Taking more than five medications is called polypharmacy. The risk of harmful effects, drug interactions and hospitalizations increase when you take more medications.”

So I stopped reading. (I also no longer read warnings that come with the meds.)

My lab work tells me meds are helping. A little. I admit that I quit taking some of the pills for a while. Kind of a test, but the lab results got worse. So yeah, there’s another algorithm running my life.

Now I ignore the questions and pop the meds. Part of my day. Routine. It’s pretty easy. No worries, but there’s a pill for that.

All I have to do is follow my handy-dandy plastic planner.

Lonny Cain, retired managing editor of The Times in Ottawa, also was a reporter for The Herald-News in Joliet in the 1970s. Email or mail The Times, 110 W. Jefferson St., Ottawa, IL 61350.