Nancy's story: Living with multiple medicines

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

Age at interview: 82
Number of medicines: 16
Cultural background: Australian/Italian/English



Nancy is retired from working in sales and lives in a retirement village on the north shore of Sydney with her husband. She is close to her children, stepchildren and grandchildren, some of whom live nearby. She is very active and enjoys gardening and playing tennis.


Current medicines and conditions

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

  • Deptran (doxepin): depression
  • Acimax (omeprazole): stomach bleeding
  • Oroxine (thyroxine): thyroid supplement
  • Norvasc (amlodipine): high blood pressure
  • Panadol Osteo (modified-release paracetamol): pain management for arthritis and polymyalgia rheumatica
  • Ezetrol (ezetimibe): high cholesterol
  • Monodur (isosorbide mononitrate): prevention of angina
  • Nitrolingual Pumpspray (glyceryl trinitrate) spray: relief of angina
  • Cortisone tablets: polymyalgia rheumatica
  • Zinc: zinc supplement
  • Mag Phos (magnesium phosphate): leg cramps
  • Vitamins B, C and D: vitamin supplements
  • Laxative: stool softener
  • Hair, skin and nails: supplement
  • Atrovent (ipratropium) inhaler: seasonal chest tightness (not asthma)
  • Intravenous iron (every 6 to 12 months): iron supplement


Previous conditions and medicines discussed

Seasonal allergies (e.g. sinusitis).


About Nancy

Nancy takes 16 medicines regularly for a number of medical conditions including arthritis, angina, high blood pressure, polymyalgia rheumatica and depression. Nancy’s arthritis pain is now reasonably well managed with long-acting paracetamol; she stopped taking anti-inflammatories after they caused stomach bleeding.

Nancy finds that having a set routine for taking her medicines, counting the number of doses and having a medicines list help her to remember to take them all. While she doesn’t really like taking so many medicines, Nancy appreciates that they keep her healthy and allow her to be active and do the things she enjoys, like gardening and tennis.

More about Nancy

Nancy takes 16 medicines regularly for a number of medical conditions. The first medicine she started taking was Deptran for depression, which she has been on for 40 years.

She first experienced arthritis pain in her knees years ago when she was playing a lot of tennis. When she started taking anti-inflammatory tablets to help with the pain, no-one warned her about any side effects, including stomach ulceration and bleeding. It was not until Nancy became very anaemic that she found out she had been bleeding from her stomach. She was put on Acimax to treat the stomach bleeding and has an intravenous iron infusion once or twice a year to boost her iron levels. She now takes regular doses of long-acting paracetamol (Duatrol) for her arthritis pain instead of anti-inflammatories. Despite the paracetamol, she still sometimes has pain and is considering having a cortisone injection near her spine if her back pain gets worse.

Nancy found out she had hypertension in her late 50s, and later experienced non-specific symptoms of feeling generally unwell, which were eventually diagnosed as angina. Although she takes Monodur tablets to try to prevent angina, she still gets occasional chest pain which usually settles down once she uses an oral dose of glyceryl trinitrate spray, which she carries in her handbag and has at home. Last year Nancy ended up going to hospital by ambulance when her glyceryl trinitrate spray didn’t relieve her chest pain as usual. She later found out that her spray was out of date.

After experiencing severe pain in her arms a number of years ago, Nancy discovered she had polymyalgia rheumatica, for which she takes cortisone tablets. She doesn’t really like taking long-term cortisone as she knows it might weaken her bones but accepts that it is necessary. She has regular bone density tests which show that her bones are still very strong.

Nancy finds generic medicines confusing as she is often unsure what condition each generic medicine is treating. She would like pharmacists to write on the label of each generic medicine what it is for, as it is important for her to understand why she takes each medicine.

Nancy doesn’t enjoy taking all her medicines as she sometimes feels they are controlling her, but she trusts that her doctor would only prescribe what is really necessary. If her pharmacist dispenses a medicine that is not her usual brand, she writes on the packages when to take each medicine and what it is for. She finds that having a set routine, storing the medicine packages for morning and night doses in separate boxes, and counting the number of doses she has to take help her to remember to take them all. She also has a list of all her medicines, and notes down anything unusual to tell her doctor at her next visit. It is important to Nancy that she is in charge of taking her medicines herself without anyone helping her, as she is the one taking them.

While she doesn’t really like taking so many medicines, Nancy appreciates that they keep her healthy and allow her to be active and do the things she enjoys like gardening and tennis.


Listen to Nancy's story

Nancy is still able to live an active life in her 80s because of her medicines.
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It is important to Nancy that she has control over her medicines, as it is her body.
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Nancy finds her medication regimen easy, as it works into her day and she can take one at different times of the day.
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The Living with multiple medicines project was developed in collaboration with

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