Medication Reminders: From Low Tech to High Tech


By MATP Staff Member Laura Hall

Did you know that medication errors are one of the leading causes for re-hospitalization of older adults? Medication management is also a major reason why people end up in nursing homes or have staff come in their homes solely to pass medications (two expensive solutions).

For many, medication management can be achieved independently at home through the use of reminder systems.  However, the number of medication reminders on the market is staggering.  Here are just a few examples of products available from low tech to high tech.  While this blog highlights many individual products and/or companies, it should not be considered an endorsement.  The Michigan Assistive Technology Program encourages you to shop around be a smart shopper of AT.

If organization of medication is the main issue many people prefer to use simple pillboxes that have spaces for morning, afternoon and evening meds.  This is a low-cost, low tech option with products that can be filled daily, weekly or monthly.  Some choose to set up reminder times on their phones, on a wristwatch, or using an app.  Many apps such as MedCoach, Medisafe and Pill Monitor are free.

If you need more of a visual reminder, special medication bottle caps, like TimerCap may be a good option.  For around $15 for two, these caps simply keep a countdown of the last time the bottle was opened.  Once opened, the timer resets.  Reminders are also available that beep, vibrate, blink or verbally announce that is it time to take medication.  E-pill is a site solely dedicated to medication reminders and has several types of these devices.

For a higher level of medication reminding and organization, systems such as the MedCenter might be more appropriate.  This system allows you to fill your medication once a month, set up to 4 daily alarms (with loud and extra loud sound options), and a red/green color coding feature that shows when the daily dose is complete.

Finally, if more monitoring and safeguard measures are needed for individuals with memory issues, there are locked medication reminders that will not open until a dose is due.  Typically these systems are more high-tech and more expensive, and can be purchased with or without monitoring services.  With monitoring services, family or caregivers can receive a call, email or text if a dose is missed, and with some systems you can even track medication management online.  It is important to know that some vendors charge a monthly monitoring fee.

Many pharmacies are also providing medication management services!  Stay tuned for my next blog on even more options for medication management through these services.



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