Choosing a Medication Reminder System

by MichelleR on April 4, 2012

Not taking prescribed medication can have serious health consequences. Reasons people forget or don’t take medications are varied, or maybe the doctor didn’t explain how to take it properly. Maybe they feel better and think they don’t need the medication anymore. Maybe they just forgot.

Anyone who cares for someone with a chronic illness for very long will soon realize there is much to be learned about how to organize medications. There are many ways to remind patients which medications to take and when. What about those patients who insist on taking medications on their own? Are there ways to remind them about medicines that are unobtrusive and fit into
the routine of every-day life? How about a system that can help several caregivers adapt to the schedule without too much explanation? (Sandra Fuson)

Pill Boxes

The most common type of medication system is the simple box with slots for different times the of day. This tool makes it easy to sort out medications up to one week to a month in advance and place it in the correct slot.

Pill boxes can be purchased at almost any drug store, Wal-greens or your local pharmacy. They come in a variety of colors, shapes and purposes. Know the basics of your medication schedule before buying one so you have the best one to fit your needs. They are fairly inexpensive ranging from $5-$10.

There are electronic pill boxes that can sound an alarm and store medications at the same time. These are more expensive but excellent for those who suffer with dementia or Alzheimer’s.

Reminder Alarms

There are a variety of reminder alarms on the market today. These can range from a watch that a patient or caregiver wears with alarms that sound at various times throughout the day to computer software that can be programmed to let people know when it is time to take the medication. There are also pagers, alarm clocks for the bedside table and even a color and sound activated night light, like the ones from Habitat Care. There is even one alarm which vibrates strong enough when placed inside a pillowcase that will wake the patient to remind them that they need to take their medication.

Watches can be programmed with specific medication information, patient’s name, doctor’s name and a variety of other information depending on the type of watch ordered. Alarms can be set to vibrate or blink when it is time to take a new medicine.

Patients who may have difficulty seeing smaller print may have difficulty with this type of reminder. In addition, the elderly are sometimes bothered by electronic beeps emitted by some of these watches, so this may be a factor when making this decision.

Remember that these alarms need to be programmed in advance by a caregiver so that the patient is not easily confused by the device.

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