Medication management can quickly get overwhelming for seniors and their caregivers. After all, many people are taking more than a dozen different medications.
Some of those medications may need to be taken in the morning and others at night. Likewise, some should be taken with a full meal, others with a snack and others on an empty stomach.
This can all get very confusing – which is why having good medication management systems is so important.
Seniors may also be suffering from issues that make it harder to take medications.
For example, memory loss can mean that they don’t remember if they have taken their medication. This can mean that they either miss medications some days or take their dose twice.
Neither alternative is good for health. Some seniors may also struggle to swallow pills or may not be able to open medication bottles themselves.
Previously, we highlighted apps for medication management and these can work exceptionally well as a way to ensure that medications are taken at the correct time. For example, many of these have alarms that alert users to when the medication needs to be taken. Some also have visual guides, making it easier to determine which medication is which.
But, while apps can be useful, they’re just one part of a larger medication management system. For some people, an app alone may be enough.
Others may need a more comprehensive approach.
The items we’re covering in this post are all products that can be used for organizing medication effectively. These operate in different ways and vary in their features. As such, some may work better for your situation than others.
These caps are a simple approach for organizing medication. You could use them on their own or in combination with another system or app.
Basically, these are regular pill bottles that also have a childproof cap and a built-in LCD stopwatch. The timer on the cap resets each time it has been removed and counts up. This makes it easy to tell when the medication was last taken, reducing the risk that someone will take their dose twice.
The timer can also be set to sound the alarm when it is time for the next dose. The included battery will last an entire year as well, making this item both practical and economical.
Nevertheless, these are best suited for people taking relatively few medications. For those who take a large number, the approach could get expensive and confusing fast.
- Clever delivery; built-in stopwatch feature makes taking medications on a schedule a breeze
- Simple to use
- Easy for seniors to understand
- Helps caregivers to monitor medication use
- At around $10 per bottle, these are relatively expensive
- May not work well for people taking many medications
- Timer will reset if you open the bottle for any other reason too – which may be confusing
You can find these caps on Amazon.
MedCenter system with Reminder System
This is a much more comprehensive medication management system and may even look a little overwhelming at first. But, for many people, the MedCenter would be perfect.
The system allows for a full 31-day supply of pills. For each day, there are four different sections that you can use (morning, noon, evening and night). There is also a talking alarm option and a regular alarm, which can provide reminders at up to four different times of the day.
The date and dosage of each pill are verified on an LCD display with a large display that is easy on the eyes and adjustable auto settings for the hard of hearing.
The daily containers are also portable, allowing seniors or caregivers to take them when leaving the house.
- Perfect for elderly patients with memory problems; it remembers pill schedules for you.
- Great for the hard of hearing.
- Would work for most pill regimens
- Receives good reviews
- Good price for the amount it offers
- Some clients have complained that initial set up is challenging
- Pill containers can be hard to open
- Containers are relatively small. So, they may not work for people taking many medications, especially if some of their pills are large
You can find the system on Amazon
There is also a MedCenter System without the alarm clock
Revolving Medicine Center
This center provides a way of storing an entire 31-day supply of medication on the bottom tier along with various medication bottles. This makes it easy to keep everything needed for medication in one place.
The Medicine Center revolves, making it easy to find the medication for the right day. For each day, medications are stored in a four-compartment container that is removable, making the center good for people on the go as well as those that stay at home.
The idea works especially well if you don’t need something complex. Plus, you can rely on an app for reminders about medication times.
- Easy to use and logical to set up
- Good value for money
- The individual cases can be a little challenging to open
- Some customers noted that they could break when used frequently
- Relatively small sections for pills
- No reminder system (but you can just use an app)
You Can Find The System On Amazon
Simple Pill Boxes
Beyond specific systems, there are also countless different pill boxes on the market. These can be used to organize pills and work well around the home or when going out.
When combined with a free app, these boxes can be an effective and inexpensive medication management system.
The examples below are all variations that are available on Amazon. But, if you’re just looking for something basic, you may be able to find a similar product at your local pharmacy or at a store like Walmart.
One common style is the item below, which also has a carry case and a place for medications to be listed.
Having four sections per day works well for most situations – and you don’t have to use them exactly as listed either. For example, we used a similar system but the ‘bed’ box was used for pills that could be taken at any time of the day.
Most products like this also allow the strip for each day to be taken out. This lets you take the medication on the go. It may not be so relevant for the product above but it can be critical for larger ones, where taking the entire kit isn’t practical.
The one limitation here is the size for individual boxes.
If seniors are taking many different medications and/or medications with large pills – you may find that they don’t fit inside the boxes. To make matters worse, most products of this style tend to have the same sized containers.
So, if you need larger containers, you may have to shop around. The product below is one example. In this case, it also has a basic alarm clock attached, so you can set pill reminders for each of the four time periods.
I’ve also seen similar products without the alarm clock.
Generally, most large pill boxes like this will allow you to prepare a week’s worth of pills at once time. In contrast, the smaller sized containers may allow you to prepare up to a month at a time. Some of the earlier products were an example of this, as is the one below.
In this case, the centermost item is a pill cutter, which would be useful. Additionally, the containers have a black and a white side (like Medcenter, which did red and green). This allows you to flip containers over when the medication has been taken, making it easy to keep track.
From a caregiver’s perspective, 31-day systems are incredibly useful – especially if medication doses don’t change often.
This allows you, a nurse or the senior to set up the pills just once every month. That’s much more time-efficient than having to do it weekly.
Finally, for people who don’t need four times per day, there are other variations. For example, the one below has just two time periods and allows pills to be loaded through the lid.
The item below is another example. This is a style that you will often see at a pharmacy or a local store.
The AM/PM variations typically come with larger containers for pills, which is perfect in many situations. However, most are only for a week at a time. So, they may not be as useful if you want to prep pills for an entire month.
You can get around that by simply prepping multiple pill boxes at the same time. Still, the 31-day systems are often more effective for extended periods and make it easier to keep track.
These various medication management systems are just a small selection of what’s currently out there. And they come in many different styles. This variation is essential, as the needs of individuals and families differ so much.
For example, some people will need to have an alarm or something similar in place. But, others may simply require an easy way to organize medication.
Regardless of which system you use, you may still want to consider an app as well.
In particular, systems like these don’t allow for the complexities of medication. For example, they don’t typically provide any way to remember which medications need to be taken with food and which ones don’t.
On the other hand, some of the medication management apps provide a way to make notes and additional reminders about medication.
More than anything, choosing a good system involves thinking about the specific needs that you have and challenges you face. Key considerations include:
- How many pills are taken per day
- How time-specific the medication is
- Whether you need an audible reminder
- Whether the system needs to be portable
- Whether you plan to use an app as well
- How simple/technological the product needs to be
- If you need notes about individual pills
The process may sound stressful but it is worth it. Once you work out a good medication management system, it tends to make things much easier.
Additionally, it helps ensure that there are no issues with medication. That aspect alone promotes the health of the person you are caring for and is reason enough to find a good solution.