Dear Savvy Senior,
What devices can you recommend to help forgetful seniors keep up with their medications? My 76-year-old mother takes nine different prescription drugs and that doesn’t include all the vitamin supplements or over-the-counter medicines she takes. Any suggestions?
The challenge of juggling medications can be a problem for anyone, especially seniors who take multiple drugs for various health conditions. Here are some different solutions that can help.
Getting organized and being reminded are the two keys to helping your mom stay on top of her medication regimen. To help achieve this, there are a wide variety of inexpensive pill boxes, medication organizers, vibrating watches, beeping pill bottles and even dispensers that talk to you that can make all the difference. To find these types of products go to epill.com (800-549-0095) and forgettingthepill.com (877-367-4382) where you’ll find dozens of affordable options.
If your mom needs a more comprehensive medication management system there are several good options here too. One of my favorites is the Maya from MedMinder (medminder.com, 888-633-6463), a computerized pill box that will beep and flash when it’s time to take her medication, and will call her if she forgets. It will even alert her if she takes the wrong pills. This device can also be set up to call, e-mail or text caregivers letting them know if your mom misses a dose, takes the wrong medication or misses a refill. The cost for Maya is $20 per month which covers rental and service fees.
Some other good medication management systems worth a look at are TabSafe (tabsafe.com, 877-700-8600) and the Philips Medication Dispensing System (managemypills.com, 888-632-3261), both of which will dispense her medicine on schedule, provide reminders and will notify caregivers if her pills aren’t taken. These systems run under $100 per month.
Another option that can help your mom keep on top of her meds is with a medication reminding service. These are services that will actually call, e-mail or text your mom reminders of when it’s time for her to take her medicine and when it’s time to refill her prescriptions. Some even offer extra reminders like doctor and dentist appointments, wake-up calls and more.
Companies that offer such services include mymedschedule.com, which provides free medication reminders via text message or e-mail. Their website can also help you make easy-to-read medication schedules that you can print out for your mom to follow. Other similar companies worth a look are rememberitnow.com which also offers free text message and e-mail reminders and pillphone.com which charges around $4 per month.
If, however, your mom doesn’t text or use a computer, OnTimeRx (ontimerx.com, 866-944-8966), Snoozester (snoozester.com) or Daily Pill Calls (dailypillcalls.com, 866-532-6855) may be the answer. With starting prices ranging between $4 and $10 per month, these services will call your mom on her home or cell phone (they can send text messages too) for all types of reminders including daily medications, monthly refills, doctor appointments and other events.
Or, if you’re looking to keep closer tabs on your mom, services like Care Call Reassurance (call-reassurance.com, 602-265-5968) or CareCalls (parentcarecall.com, 888-275-3098) may be a better fit. In addition to the call reminders to your mom’s phone, these services can be set up to contact you or a designated caregiver if she fails to answer or acknowledge the call. Care Call Reassurance costs $15 per month if paid a year in advance, and CareCalls costs $39 per month plus a one-time activation fee of $99.
Savvy Tip: If you have questions or concerns about the medications your mom is taking, gather up all her pill bottles (including all prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, minerals, and herbal supplements) and take them to her primary physician or pharmacist for a drug review so he or she can look for any potential problems.
Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit SavvySenior.org. Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC Today show and author of “The Savvy Senior” book.