The use of five or more prescription drugs per month among the 60 and older crowd has increased significantly in the past decade. Add in doctor-approved over-the-counter medications, and often patients are looking at a staggering amount of medication information to keep track of on a regular basis.
Valerie Early, a pharmacist with Norton Healthcare, says there are pill boxes on the market to help with more complex regimens. Apothecary Products, for example, sells a variety of containers that offer four compartments per day (morning, noon, evening, and bedtime) and cost between $10-$15. These types of pill boxes can be found in most local pharmacies as well as online.
Group Medical Supply’s Med-e-Lert is an automatic pill dispenser that dispenses pills up to six times per day. It has a locking device to prevent tampering and includes a loud alarm with a blinking light to remind patients when it is time to take their medication. Although this is considerably more expensive than the simple plastic pillboxes, at around $80 it might be worth the cost for having peace of mind due to the locking features.
Early says another product many caregivers like is MedMinder, which can be rented on a monthly basis ($40+ per month). In addition to multiple compartments, a locking device, and reminders for patients, some models also offer medical alert features that open a two-way voice channel with professionals who can assist the patient. Many of the models can send text messages to caregivers to notify them when patients have taken their medications or if there has been any tampering with the medication.
Technologically savvy patients may find the free Apple/Android app Medisafe to be more to their liking, especially if they don’t have memory conditions such as dementia that make medication management more challenging. Patients with chronic conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis can get reminders to take their medication on their phones, and their caregivers or loved ones can also receive alerts if medications aren’t taken on time. The app allows patients to keep track of all their medications, dosages, prescribing physicians, and pharmacies, making it easy to have on hand at doctor appointments instead of bringing every pill bottle into the exam room.
By Carrie Vittitoe