Dear Savvy Senior,
What products or solutions can you recommend to help seniors keep up with their medications? My mom is supposed to take several different medications at different times of the day, but frequently forgets.
Anybody who juggles multiple medications can relate to the problem of forgetting to take a medication, or not remembering whether they already took it. This is especially true for people who take medications at varying times of the day. Here are some different product and service solutions that may help.
1. Medication Helpers
Getting organized and being reminded are the two keys to staying on top of a medication schedule. To help your mom achieve this, there are a wide variety of affordable pillboxes, medication organizers, vibrating watches, beeping pill bottles and even dispensers that will talk to her that can make all the difference.
Also check out Reminder Rosie ($130), a voice activated talking clock that tells you when to take your medicine, and can be used for other reminders, too.
And for a super comprehensive medication management device, there's the MedMinder automatic pill dispenser. This is a computerized pillbox that will beep and flash when it's time for your mom 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, email or text family members and caregivers letting you know if she misses a dose, takes the wrong medication or misses a refill. The MedMinder rents for $40 to $65 per month.
2. Medication Packaging
Another possible way to help simplify your mom's medication use is to get her prescriptions filled in single-dose packets that put all her medications (vitamins and over-the-counter drugs can be included too) together in neatly labeled packets organized by date and the time of day they should be taken. This does away with all the pill bottles and pill sorting. Some compounding pharmacies or independent drug stores offer single-dose packaging along with a number of online pharmacies like PillPack.com.
3. Reminding Services
Another simple solution that can help your mom stick to her medication schedule is to use a medication reminding service. These are services that will actually call, email or text your mother reminders of when it's time 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 are MyMedSchedule.com, which provides free medication reminders via text message or email. Their website can also help you make easy-to-read medication schedules that you can print out for your mom to follow. Or, if your mom uses a smartphone or tablet, there are free medication reminding apps that can help, like MediSafe or MedCoach.
If, however, your mom doesn't receive texts or use a smartphone, tablet or computer, OnTimeRx.com or Snoozester.com may be the answer. With starting prices ranging between $4 and $10 per month, these services will call your mom on her phone (they can send text messages and emails too) for all types of reminders including daily medications, monthly refills, doctor appointments, wake-up calls and other events.
Or, if you're looking for extra help, Care Call Reassurance may be a better fit. In addition to the call reminders to your mom's phone, this service can be set up to contact a family member or designated caregiver if she fails to answer or acknowledge the call. This service runs between $15 and $20 per month.
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.