Thursday, April 9, 2009

Medication Reminders

Keeping track of medications can be hard, especially when you are on multiple medications, like so many older adults are. I wanted to make a couple of resources that I've learned about recently available.

For a lot of folks, pill minders aren't an option, because there isn't anyone to set the box up each week. I learned about this service, called DailyMedRx. They package all medications, including over the counter medications into pre-sorted into single dose packs. Each pack is then printed with the date and time the medication is to be taken. Now, I have not personally used the service, but it sounds like it could be a really great service for a lot of people.

Another useful site is e-pill Medication Reminders. They carry several different reminders, including ones that talk or vibrate. Again, these are great, but only as long as there is someone who can load them every week.

When choosing a medication reminder it's important to think about who will be using it. Someone told me recently about their client who had one of the really fancy ones, that's all computerized and has all the bells and whistles. This gentleman, who had dementia, had been an engineer, so of course he took the very expensive device apart, to see how it worked, and then he couldn't put it back together! I don't know what they ended up doing, but sometimes simpler is better.

There are also services that can provide monitoring, usually tied in with an emergency response system. One thing to remember with these is that you might know that the device opened at the proper time, and that the person even took the medications out, but you have no way of knowing that they actually took them.

These devices can be helpful for people in early stages of dementia, but as the dementia progresses they can often forget the purpose of the device. It's important to monitor how the person is understanding and using the reminder. I've actually seen a person take the pills out, say that they need to be taken, then put them on the table and forget about them.

Some of these products can be very helpful and can keep a person independent longer, just don't ever expect a device like these to be a substitute for real, live person.