Choosing a Medication Reminder System

By Jude Roberts on March 20, 2014

Choosing a Medication Reminder System

Not taking prescribed medication – noncompliance – can have serious health consequences. The reasons why people forget or don’t take medications are varied. Maybe the doctor didn’t explain how to take it properly. Maybe they feel better and think they don’t need the medicine anymore. Maybe they just forgot.


Anyone who cares for someone with a chronic illness for very long will soon realize there is much to be learned about how to organize medications. There are many ways to remind patients which medications to take and when. In addition, what about those patients who insist on taking medications on their own? Are there ways to remind them about medicines that are unobtrusive and fit into the routine of every day life? How about a system that can help several caregivers adapt to the schedule without too much explanation?

Pill Boxes

The most common type of medication system is the simple box with slots for different times of day. Caregivers sort out medications generally up to one week in advance and place it in the correct slot. At the appropriate time, the patient or the caregiver can tell at a moment’s glance which medicines need to be taken when.

Pill boxes can be purchased at almost any store, whether it’s your local drug store or your larger discount stores. Depending on the number of doses needed every day will determine the type purchases. Cost isn’t generally a factor since these are the least expensive option on the market today, starting generally at less than $10.

There are electronic pill boxes that can sound an alarm and store medications at the same time. These are more expensive depending on the brand ordered and the number of features required by the patient for their medication system.

Reminder Alarms

There are a variety of reminder alarms on the market today. These can range from a watch that the patient or caregiver wears with alarms that sound at various times throughout the day to computer software that can be programmed to let people know when it is time to take the medication.

Watches can be programmed with specific medication information, patient’s name, doctor’s name, and a variety of other information depending on the type of watch ordered. Alarms can be set to vibrate or emit an electronic alarm when it is time to take a new medicine.

Patients who may have difficulty seeing smaller print may have difficulty with this type of reminder. In addition, the elderly are sometimes bothered by electronic beeps emitted by some of these watches, so this may be a factor when making this decision.

Other electronic alarms can look similar to an alarm clock and have settings for several different medications. These need to be programmed in advance by the caregiver so that the patient is not easily confused by the device. One alarm vibrates strong enough when placed inside a pillowcase that it will wake the patient to remind them that they need to take medication.

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By Jude Roberts| March 20, 2014
Categories:  Care Giving

About the Author

Jude Roberts

Jude Roberts

Jude Roberts is a Staff Writer for Today's Caregiver Magazine, caregiver.com and the Caregiver Newsletter. You can subscribe to the magazine or receive their free newsletter by going to caregiver.com and signing up.

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