For anyone taking medications, effective management is critical. After all, you have to take the right pill at the right time to see the desired benefits.
Failing to do so can have negative impacts on health, potentially putting people at significant risk. What’s more, some estimates suggest that as many as 50% of patients don’t take their medications correctly (1).
As a result, effective medication management is critical. There are various ways to achieve that outcome but this post focuses on one specific idea – the use of free apps for medication management.
Taking medication correctly is critical for any age group. But, it is particularly relevant for the elderly.
One reason is health conditions. Estimates suggest that nearly 75% of seniors have multiple chronic health conditions (2), many of which require medication for effective management. For people over 50, more than half of all emergency room visits are related to the misuse of medication or to side effects from medication (3).
At the same time, there are multiple reasons why seniors may struggle with medication. These include the following issues:
- Difficulty remembering to take medication
- Taking too many medications (40% of people above 65 take 5-9 medications)
- Having to take different pills at various times of the day
- Uncertainty about what to take and when
- Transportation challenges, which can make it hard to fill prescriptions regularly
- Challenges with reading labels
- Inability to understand or to hear instructions from the doctor
- Paranoia or refusal to take medication
- Difficulty swallowing pills and/or administrating injectables (such as insulin)
Effective management can help resolve many of these issues and apps can play a key role in that process.
Why Use Apps For Medication?
Apps are particularly powerful as a way to remind people about when to take medication and some also help make sure the correct pills are chosen.
What’s more, this type of app can work well for seniors and for caregivers. For example, a caregiver may use the app as an indication of when to remind or ask a senior about medication. This becomes particularly relevant for cases where medications must be taken multiple times each day. Alternatively, the senior might use the app themselves.
Choosing the right type of app can significantly help improve medication adherence, especially for seniors who take multiple types of medication each day. Doing so can also make the pills much easier to manage for both seniors and caregivers.
This aspect alone makes the process worthwhile and might even help lower caregiver stress.
Medication management apps have many advantages and tend to be less expensive than their physical counterparts. This can be fantastic if you are on a tight budget or are not sure what is going to work in your situation. Additionally, many of the medication management tools and apps are free – making them a perfect place to start.
These can be accessed whenever you have a wireless connection and in many cases, they can be used while you are offline too.
The apps may also have additional advantages. For example, they could be useful for monitoring changes to medication over time or for providing information to the doctor. Likewise, some of the apps are designed with chronic conditions in mind, so they may have other useful features.
Both the App Store from Apple and Google Play from Android boast a wide range of these medication management apps, along with apps that can help with other caregiving tasks. In fact, there are many powerful apps for seniors. Some of these are useful for keeping seniors entertained and for providing mental challenges. Others can help address specific needs.
With that in mind, here are some of the best free apps for medication management that are currently out there. They vary in the precise features that they offer and the way that they function. But, hopefully at least one meets your current needs.
Besides, they’re all free apps. So, you have the chance to simply try them out and determine the best choice for you that way. For each app, you can click on the App Store or Google Play link to visit the appropriate store listing.
Best Free Apps for Medication Management
1. MediSafe Meds & Pill Reminder (iTunes App Store and Google Play)
The Medisafe app is one of the most popular options for medication management, getting consistently positive reviews and being highly recommended overall. For most situations, this would be the best place to start.
The design of the app is intuitive for anyone who uses smartphones regularly. It allows people to important drug and dosage information and set reminders. There are also other features, such as monitoring certain statistics and recording notes for medication (such as whether it should be taken with food or not).
Because the app is high quality, it is also regularly updated.
While the app itself is free, there are paid components. As such, you may need to pay some money to get the features that you want. However, this is common across many of the options – and most apps will either be ad-supported or will have purchasable components.
2. Mango Health – Medication Manager, Pill Reminder (iTunes App Store)
The Mango Health Medication Manager has been featured on CNN and in The Los Angeles Times. It is designed to make pill regimens both fun and easy, with built-in medication reminders, a daily health journal, refill alerts, and drug interaction warnings. It is a great example of just what medication management apps can do.
The fun part of the app comes with the chance to earn points to win prizes. All you have to do is take your medication when you’re supposed to and your points will automatically accrue. Like all the other apps listed, it’s free.
3. Med Helper Pill Reminder (Google Play and iTunes App Store)
Designed for caregivers managing multiple seniors’ health or for individual use, Earthflare’s Med Helper Pill Reminder tracks prescriptions, reminds you when to take them, and lets you know when you are running out. A simple user interface allows caregivers to monitor multiple patients and multiple drug regimens.
The app isn’t as popular as Medisafe’s option and the iTunes version is very new. Even so, it is an interesting alternative to try out. As with Medisafe, there is a free and a premium version of the app – so you don’t get all of the features in the free version.
One powerful aspect that’s worth highlighting is the ability to log and export/print reports. Doing so can provide useful information for sharing with medical professionals.
4. Pill Monitor Free (iTunes App Store)
Available free of charge on the iTunes App Store, Pill Monitor Free features many of options designed to make pill regimens quick and easy. This one is particularly handy if you take multiple medications, as it can be programmed with up to eleven different audio sounds to remind you when to take your pills.
The app does not have to be active either to work. It will remind you even if it is idling in the background, which gives you peace of mind. You can even upload photos of your pills so you can be sure that you are taking the right ones, plus it keeps a detailed history in case you forget. It can be upgraded to a paid version with more features, but the free app has more than enough options to meet your needs.
5. Dosecast (Google Play and iTunes App Store)
Dosecast was developed in 2010 and it is another app that is commonly used for medication management. A key advantage is smart scheduling, which adjusts notifications based on when people are awake and also offers backup reminders. There is also time zone adjustment for cases where you may be traveling with a senior.
Apps aren’t the best choice for every person and situation. But, with how technical our world has become, they do make logical sense. If nothing else, apps are convenient and they are a good place to get started. You can also combine an app with medication management devices and medication management tips to ensure the best possible outcome for your situation.
As with any other part of caregiving, exact needs vary from one person to the next.
So, for some people, apps may be too much work or too confusing. That’s particularly true if you or the senior aren’t very tech-savvy. But, for others, the apps may be a lifesaver. Because these options are free, you don’t lose much by simply trying them out.
You might even find that the apps are useful for your own needs, whether for medications and/or supplements. Even though you may not take a large number of medications – it’s easy to forget sometimes, especially if you are busy.
With this in mind, what techniques do you find most helpful for medication management? Have you tried any of these apps, or do you have your own approaches?