How often do we hear the words “Don’t forget to take your medicines”? Starting from our childhood, right through the senior years, these words have been as ubiquitous as the medicines themselves. For most of us medicines become a part of our lives at some stage, and as we grow older their importance increases. Managing medication can become difficult as the number of pills increases or as age causes memory and eyesight to become weaker.
There are different kinds of aids available to help the elderly with managing their tablets and pills. The simplest form is an App (such as MediSafe for Android and iOS) that runs on a hand-held device, and has an option of multiple reminders. Some Apps may show a picture of the tablet / pill and require the user to tap on it to confirm that the medication has been taken. Additional features may include generating a report showing compliance over a period of time.
A slightly friendlier version is a device called Reminder Rosie. It is a personal voice reminder with a large display alarm clock designed with seniors in mind. A key feature is that it can be operated through voice commands, eliminating the need for a complicated set up procedure. The reminders themselves can be customized and in any language in order to provide greater familiarity for the user. With a capacity of 25 reminders, it can be used for several purposes but it is especially useful for medication alerts. A built-in backup system lets it work even during power outages.
App based reminders and devices such as Reminder Rosie are suitable for those who are capable of selecting and taking the correct medication themselves. Where necessary, off the shelf pill organizers can be used in conjunction with the reminders to ensure that the correct pills are easily accessible.
For those who may require more help, the automatic pill dispensers from e-pill combine the reminder service with pill dispensing. Most such devices provide a twenty eight compartment pill box that can be used for one, two or four weeks based on the number of daily dosages. The compartments can be filled by a caregiver manually or in the form of cartridges by a pharmacist. Once the device has been set up, it needs no further intervention except for periodic refilling of the cartridges.
The automatic pill dispenser works by putting out an audio visual alarm at the scheduled time. In many cases the devices will allow access to only the indicated compartment while keeping the others locked. This feature works as an additional protection against taking the wrong medication. The alarm will usually continue until the compartment has been opened and the medication taken out. Depending on whether the device is standalone or internet enabled, it may be able to take further action if the medication is not removed.
A pill dispenser like MedMinder connects with a central server using a cellular modem. This lets it be programmed remotely with the correct schedule for medication. The caregiver can also record personalized voice messages as reminders. Its remote access capability enables different levels of reminders. If the initial audio visual indication is ignored, the dispenser can provide the user further notification using phone and text messages. In case this does not work, it will send out messages to caregivers alerting them to an unusual situation.
Taking the correct medicine at the right time is an important way to control a lot of health issues that occur as we grow older. Chronic conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiac and other problems require timely medication. Missed or extra doses can lead to complications and even hospitalization. With several different options available seniors can choose which is best suited for their needs and be sure that their medication is tracked properly.