Remembering to take medication correctly each day isn’t always easy. It can be especially tricky for people with conditions like Dementia or Alzheimer’s. One of the biggest worries for their families is that they won’t remember to take their medication, or may forget they’ve already taken it, causing them to accidentally take too high a dose. Luckily, there are a number of medication reminders available for people who are struggling with remembering their medication. Here are the best medication reminders for older people – including pillboxes, pharmacy services, and smartphone apps.
Medication boxes are one of the most cost-effective and simple ways to manage medication. The most basic pillboxes consist of seven small compartments corresponding to each day of the week. These are perfect for people who need to take their medication once a day.
At the start of each week, put the appropriate number of pills in each compartment. This will make it easy for your loved one to know exactly what they need to take each day. A medication box saves them from struggling with difficult packaging and remembering what the correct dosages are. The days of the week marked on the medication box serve to remind them whether or not they’ve already taken their medication that day.
Other variations include double-decker pillboxes with morning and evening compartments. There are also triple-level boxes with compartments corresponding to breakfast, lunch and dinner. Options for four-times-a-day medication are also available.
It’s very important to make sure that the medication box gets refilled every week. If your loved one is prone to forgetting, why not pop over and fill it up for them? If this is not possible, try giving them a ring at the same time every week to remind them to refill it. Alternatively, you may be able to have the local pharmacy prepare the medication box on their behalf. Bear in mind that not all pharmacies offer this service and those that do may charge a small fee.
Medication Reminder Boxes
The pillboxes we’ve discussed above can be incredibly useful medication reminders. However, if the user is struggling to remember to take their medication in the first place, they might also forget to use their pillbox. If this is the case, a medication reminder box with a built-in alarm could be the solution.
Just like a standard pillbox, a medication reminder box has different compartments for each day’s medication. In addition, it has a built-in alarm to remind your loved one when it is time to take their medication. This alarm could consist of sounds, flashing lights, or vibrations. You can schedule it to go off multiples times per day, exactly when they need to take their next dose.
You can even get smaller medication reminder boxes with compartments for up to two dosages. These small boxes can be worn as a pendant or kept in a jacket pocket. As a result, they’ll be able to get out and about without missing their medication.
Automatic Pill Dispensers
If your loved one is in danger of confusing the days of the week or time of day, an automatic pill dispenser may be the best solution for their safety and your peace of mind.
An automatic pill dispenser is similar to a medication reminder box. However, it features a secure lock, programmed to release each dosage at the correct time. Therefore, there is no risk of your loved one taking a double dose or more. Like the other medication boxes we’ve discussed, automatic pill dispensers usually contain enough compartments for 28 separate dosages.
A dispenser is much more secure as there is no way they can access a dose which they shouldn’t be taking yet. This eliminates any risk of the person accidentally taking their medication twice.
Some pharmacies will offer a service where they can fill your pillbox or dispenser there and then for you when you pick up a prescription. This is a great time-saver for busy families and carers! It is also great for people who may not feel comfortable measuring out correct dosages themselves, as well as those who struggle with dexterity and fiddly blister packs. Ask your local pharmacy if this is a service they provide.
PillTime offers a similar service, available to all NHS England patients. It allows you to order your prescriptions online. They will organise your medication into pouches according to when you need to take it. Each pouch has clear labelling indicating the exact contents and the time and date it should be taken, e.g. Thursday morning, Thursday lunchtime etc. You can sign up for the service by nominating PillTime as your NHS pharmacist. The service is free to use. However, if you pay for your prescriptions, these costs will still stand. While services like this might not be medication reminders in and of themselves, they still help to reduce the chances of missing a dose or taking the wrong medication at the wrong time.
Medication Reminder Apps
If your loved one owns a smartphone or tablet, a medication reminder app could be the way to go. There are several free apps available for both Apple and Android devices. Most medication reminder apps allow you to set personalised medication reminders for your specific pill schedule. Choose the frequency and time of day for each medication you take. You can also add notes to each reminder, letting you know which medication to take and whether to take it with food, for example.
Some medication reminder apps allow you to nominate a relative, friend, or carer to receive notifications when the user misses a dosage. This is a very helpful feature – you’ll be able to give your loved one a call if they miss their medication to remind them yourself.
Below are some examples of free medication reminder apps:
- Safe and Sound Pill Reminder
- Pill Reminder and Medication Tracker by Medisafe
- Medication Reminder & Pill Tracker by MyTherapy
Alternatively, phone services such as Memo24 arrange for an automated phone call to be placed at a scheduled time with a pre-recorded message.
This is often a good option for people who find pillboxes and alarms a bit intimidating and technical to use.
The messages can be recorded in your own voice or the voice of someone close to the user such as a daughter, son or spouse. In turn, this makes it much more personal with the familiar voice of a loved one providing the reminder to them.
Careline Personal Alarm
Medication reminders can provide much-needed peace of mind to an elderly or disabled person and their family. Similarly, a Careline Personal Alarm offers extra security for people to remain safe and independent in their own homes. The simple plug-and-play system comes with free next-working-day delivery, so you could have it up and running within 24 hours of placing an order. In the event of a fall or medical emergency, the alarm user simply needs to press their Careline pendant button. This will raise an alert with our Care Team, who will speak to the alarm user and call their emergency contacts to come and assist them.
Furthermore, those taking medication to treat a long-term illness will qualify for VAT relief. If you have any questions about our service, please get in touch. You can call our Customer Service Team on 0800 101 3333 or contact us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Note: we updated this article on 04/01/2021. It was first published 31/01/20.