Judy's story: Living with multiple medicines

Find out about Judy and hear her speak about the value and challenges of taking multiple medicines.

Age at interview: 72
Number of medicines: 9
Cultural background: Anglo-Australian



Judy is a retired sales assistant and now works as a volunteer in an op shop. She lives on the central coast of New South Wales with her husband.


Current medicines and conditions

Some medicines are taken regularly; some are taken only as needed.

  • Minax (metoprolol): high blood pressure
  • Piax (clopidogrel): antiplatelet (prevention of clots)
  • Evista (raloxifene hydrochloride): oestrogen receptor modulator: osteoporosis
  • Perindo combi (perindopril erbumine/indapamide hemihydrates): blood pressure
  • Glyade (gliclazide): controls blood glucose for type 2 diabetes
  • Eutroxsig (1 x daily, 100 mcg), Eutroxsig (1/2 tablet x Saturday morning, 100 mcg): thyroid replacement
  • Lorstat (atorvastatin calcium): cholesterol
  • Calcium + vitamin D, vitamin C
  • De-Gas (simethicone): stomach wind and gas.


Previous conditions and medicines discussed

Aspirin, Panadol Osteo.


About Judy

While considering herself a well person, Judy finds herself taking seven prescription medications as well as calcium and vitamin supplements. Her life is a busy and active one and she is beginning to feel frustrated that she is unable to do things that could be managed easily only a few years ago. She manages her medicines effectively by establishing good habits and routines, and feels very supported by her GP and pharmacist. She has been fortunate in experiencing few side effects or interactions from her medicines. She does not dwell on what might go wrong, but focuses on the benefits and maintaining her lifestyle as much as possible.

More about Judy

Judy is the wife of a retired minister, a mother and grandmother of 10 grandchildren, and she finds her life a busy and fulfilling one. Much of her time is spent in managing an op shop, which raises ongoing funding for community work. She expresses frustration that the ageing process is catching up with her and she has developed a number of medical conditions in recent years. At first, she had put some symptoms she was experiencing down to ageing, but her GP convinced her that these were all signs of a thyroid condition. In the face of diagnostic blood tests, she had to accept the need for ongoing medication.

Over the ensuing years she has also commenced medication for high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol levels and type 2 diabetes. Following a fall, an x-ray revealed a cracked bone and osteoporosis, and she commenced on the first medication to give her any side effects. After developing gastric symptoms, she discussed her concerns with her GP and her medication was changed. Her symptoms resolved, but the trade-off was a daily pill instead of a weekly one. Judy says she has a good relationship with her GP and pharmacist and is a generally ‘compliant patient’.

Her biggest scare occurred in 2003 when she developed some heaviness in her arms while undertaking her usual walking program. She found herself in hospital undergoing heart surgery for a stent. This resulted in the addition of heart medications to her growing list. One of the difficulties she has, if any, in dealing with her medications is well-meaning advice from those who have had side effects on the medicines she is taking. At the back of her mind was something a doctor had once told her about her mother-in-law, saying that her cancer had probably developed from all the medications she was taking. This sometimes has left her with a nagging concern that, despite feeling very well on her medications, something untoward might be happening and she just would not know. Judy has been very fortunate in experiencing very few side effects or interactions with her medicines and therefore has a little difficulty in knowing what contribution the medicines make to her sense of wellbeing.

Judy feels she is managing the practical aspects of being on a number of medicines quite well. Given the demands on her time, she has linked the times she needs to take her medicines to other activities, which serve as a reminder and become part of a daily habit. There have been challenges when travelling at times when medications were forgotten. She has addressed this by having a little bag that she can just pick up and go. Her bulk supplies and scripts reside at the top of the linen cupboard. She has not yet felt the need to be more organised than this, but admits the time may come when more medicines are added or the regimen becomes a little more complicated. At that stage, she would consider the use of a Webster-pak to streamline things.

With regard to the cost of her medicines, Judy is pragmatic. After discussion with her pharmacist, she has agreed to use a number of generic rather than brand medications as there are savings to be had. Her pharmacist has reassured her that the ingredients are identical. She already budgets for the cost of food and petrol; the medicines are now just another necessity of life. Far from seeing them as an imposition, she appreciates that her medications are probably keeping her alive and, if she were not taking them, she might not be here.


Listen to Judy's story

Judy was reassured by her GP that she was unlikely to develop stomach cancer due to her medicines, which was what her mother-in-law had been told by her doctor.
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Judy feels well and finds her tablets easy to take. Any problems with her medicines have been minor and very easy to resolve.
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Judy is not worried by the number of medicines she takes because she has great faith in her GP.
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The Living with multiple medicines project was developed in collaboration with

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