Do you find yourself forgetting to take your medication?

If you answered yes, your brain probably automatically goes into a spiral about why you can’t seem to take a small pill as directed. For many people, the answer seems clear:

I’m getting old and senile.

Sure, that’s a possibility, but it’s also just as likely that something else is going on. Especially since a whopping 75 percent of Americans have trouble taking medication as prescribed. They can’t all be old and senile!

Chances are, you aren’t experiencing memory problems at all. Instead, you probably have issues with busyness or your brain is full.

You’re Busy, or Not Busy Enough

Being busy can feel rewarding. It boosts self-esteem and can make us feel needed. As is the case with most things in life, balance is needed. If you’re too busy, it’s easy to forget to take your medication.

Old habits die hard. Especially for middle aged and older Americans who are used to being busy, but overfilling your schedule can lead you to forget to take your medication.

That doesn’t necessarily mean you have to slow down. It does mean that you have to be aware when you have an extra busy day ahead so you still remember to take your medication. Try setting an alarm on your phone and use Tooktake labels to help you remember.

Interestingly, that’s not the end of the story.

In one study, people between the ages of 18 and 20 actually have a harder time remembering to take their medication when they aren't busy. Young brains actually remember better when they are active.

But the age range that was studied is very narrow. When does being busy go from being a good thing to a bad thing?

It’s probably the case that the answer is different for everyone. If you’re in your 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, or even your 50’s, and you find that you’re most alert when you’re active, it may be the case that you have to do a better job of remembering to take your meds on days when your schedule is less full—not more full.

Your Brain is Full

It could also be the case that you’re trying to think about and keep track of too many things at once. If you’re ruminating about a problem, trying to remember a doctor’s appointment, and trying to remember to send a birthday card in the mail, there simply isn’t enough room in your brain to remember to take your medication.

Your brain is limited to thinking about four things at once, but you can trick your brain into remembering more by grouping things together. For example, when you always take your medication with lunch, you’re effectively remembering to do one thing instead of two.

Just because you can’t remember to take your medication doesn’t mean you’re old and frail! It’s just as likely that it’s because you’re too busy, not busy enough, or your brain is too full, which means there’s something you can do about it!