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  • Ann Hollander

Pillbox 2.0


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For many people, a pillbox is just the ticket. But as we age, we may take more medicines. Filling the box requires more concentration. Remembering to take the meds can become more challenging. Many families turn to technology to help an aging loved one.


There are two tech strategies: Reminders issued by a phone, and automated dispensers.


Reminder apps. If your relative does fine setting up the pillbox, try a smartphone reminder app. These require a lot of inputting, however, and updating as medicines change. Quite honestly, setting standard smartphone alarms to go off at the appointed time is much simpler and serves roughly the same function.


Automated dispensers. Although they aren't very portable, if your loved one has memory issues and five medications or more, consider an automated dispenser.

  • Filling the device. Some are like a pillbox and require a person (you?) to put the pills in compartments for each day and time. Then the machine beeps and opens the right compartment when its dose is due. Others allow you to load each medication in bulk into separate containers. One for each drug needed. The machine fills the individual day/time compartments based on what you have programmed.

  • Reminder strategy. Some flash lights or make noise. Others send a reminder alert to your relative's smartphone. Or make an automated call. Do you want to also receive a reminder?

  • Confirmation strategy. Some devices keep beeping or flashing until the compartment has been opened. You can also have a "compartment opened" text confirmation sent to you. (No guarantees the pills made it into the mouth, however!)

  • Protection against overmedication. Some devices lock the compartment when detecting that a dose of pills has not been taken at the programmed time. Again, you may want an alert when a medication is not taken.

Is medication management an issue?

As the North Shore and Chicago experts in family caregiving, we at Options for Aging see families struggle with how best to ensure that their loved ones are taking what they need at the right times. Not too much. Not too little. Medication errors account for many older adult hospitalizations! If you would like help with this, give us a call at 847-868-1445.

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