For many older adults remembering to take medication can be difficult. On average, people over 65 take 12 or more prescription medications per year. For your loved one’s health and safety it is especially important they take the right medication, at the right dose properly every day.
In a recent post, The Best Tools for Medication Management, we discussed various tools available to help your aging loved one manage their prescriptions safely and accurately. Automatic pill dispensers, in particular, can help older adults organize their medication by the day, time, amount and frequency.
Common Issues Seniors Have with Medication
- Forgetting to take medication on time
- Incorrectly taking too many doses at once
- Confusing one medication for another
- Taking another dose too soon after the first one
What is an Automatic Pill Dispenser?
Pill dispensers are portable devices that allow you to organize your medication by day/time. These devices provide safety and reassurance by dispensing the correct pills on a set day/time via an alarm/reminder mechanism. Most also lock when not in use, preventing the patient from taking the wrong pills, as well as preventing children from accessing the device.
The Benefits of Using an Automatic Medication Dispenser
In addition to helping ensure that correct dosages are taken at the right time, automatic dispensers can help families avoid the high cost of having to pay a caregiver to take care of their loved one’s medication needs. This is especially beneficial in situations where family members may live some distance away and are not able to visit on a daily or weekly basis.
Overall, automatic pill dispensers can help support your loved one’s independence and allow them to stay in their home longer.
A Few Things to Consider Before Purchasing
- Will your loved one require audio alerts, visual alerts or both when it’s time to take their medication? Most units emit an audible noise at varying decibels in addition to a flashing light for the hearing impaired.
- How often will you or someone you trust be able to fill the dispenser? Some units can hold more medication than others.
- Are you looking for a service that will handle prescription renewals as well as medication dispensing? Be aware that there can be an ongoing fee associated with these types of services.
- Does your loved one have dementia? If so, a locking lid and built-in anti-tampering alarm system may be a feature that is especially important to you.
- Does the unit you are considering have a backup power supply? Most do, but you should double-check before purchasing in case of power outages.
- Does your loved one have arthritis or limited mobility? If so, be sure to read up on the ease of use of the unit you are considering.
- How much medication is your loved one taking and how large are their pills? Most units have medication trays that are designed to hold a substantial amount of medication, but there can be limits on the volume as well as maximum pill size requirements.
- How often and at what type of intervals is your loved one required to take their medication? Again, most units can accommodate a variety of complex medication schedules, but be sure to compare the unit’s features against the schedule prescribed by your loved one’s physician.
- What level of monitoring or accountability do you require? Many units have an associated app that will alert you when your loved one has skipped a dose, but be sure to check if this feature is important to you.
The Best Automatic Pill Dispensers
Our recommendations for the top automatic pill dispensers you should consider are listed below. Be sure to check with your insurance provider, as well as your physician to discuss which product might be right for your situation as well as what financial assistance may be available.
Hero Medication Dispenser, Manage, and Pill Organizer
Hero sorts and dispenses doses at the push of a button with audible and visual reminders to help keep your loved on track, and an optional PIN password that keeps medications safe until it’s time to take them. Your Hero membership gives you peace of mind with an automatic pill dispenser that makes it simple and easy for your loved ones to take the right medication at the right time, every time.
- Audible and visual reminders to keep you on track and an optional PIN password keeps medication safe until it’s time to take them.
- The app reminds you or your caregiver if you need a helping hand. You will also get an alert if you’re low on pills.
- The optional Hero Fill service delivers medication directly to your door to help keep you from running out of prescriptions, over-the-counter medications, and supplements and includes free delivery.
- Holds up to a 90-day supply of up to 10 different medications
- Free Shipping. Free Returns.
Cost: $29.99 per month (plus $99 initiation fee)
E-Pill MedTime XL Automatic Pill Dispenser
The e-pill MedTime XL is an Easy to Use Locked Automatic Pill Dispenser from e-pill Medication Reminders. When it is time to take your medications, the device will alarm, prompting the patient to turn the device over, dispensing medications into a cup or their hand. The original Made In Sweden pill dispenser remains popular after 18 years on the market.
- Unlimited number of dispenses per day (up to 28 times per day)
- The unit is lockable and comes with two keys (included)
- Long alarm time duration (up to 60 minutes)
- Holds 15 Aspirin sized tablets per dose.
- 12-month battery life (4 x AA batteries are included) with low battery warning
- Used in clinical studies
- No monthly fees
Cost: $389.95 – $495.00
Live Fine Bluetooth Pill Dispenser, Automatic 28 Day Pill Delivery System
Patients, their families and caregivers can enjoy perpetual peace of mind with this automatic Bluetooth Pill Dispenser from LiveFine. The sophisticated system lets you set pill schedules up to 6X a day with easily interchangeable rings. Use the LCD to program manually or connect to any compatible smart device to plan dosages with the swipe of a finger. Be free to go about your day as the tiny computer tracks, records and alerts you when it’s time to take your pills.
- Reminds you to take medications with beeping alarm and flashing lights up to 30 minutes
28 compartments hold multiple pills or tablets per partition so fewer refills are necessary (perfect for prescription drugs, supplements, vitamins, aspirin, antibiotics and more)
- Includes powerful latch and manual key to prevent messes, unwanted tampering and theft
- Mini magnifying glass cover gives a closer look at corresponding dosage information
- Pill delivery alerts
Cost: Approximately $90
GMS Med-e-lert 28 Day Automatic Pill Dispenser
The MedELert pill dispenser is an advanced electronic pill organizer that locks medications from the patient until the correct time arrives for dosing. Customize dosing combinations from once a day to six times a day. MedELert comes with programmable alerts to notify patients when a medication dosage is due. When the administration time arrives, the specified pill compartment for that time period is automatically unlocked and an audible alarm with sound.
- Smart-electronic dispensing with audible and flashing alerts
- Loud audio alert up to 30 minutes or until medications are dispensed
- Low battery alert
- Tamper-resistant keyed locking system
- Flexible dosing combinations (once daily for 28 days, twice daily for 14 days, three times daily for 9 days, five times daily for 5 days, six times daily for 4 days)
- LED display with clock/alarm 12/24 hour formats
- Easy 3-button programming
Cost: Approximately $80
VitaWorks Automatic Pill Dispenser
The VitaWorks pill dispenser allows you to fill and sent your dispenser only once every 28 doses giving caregivers back time and your loved one freedom and independence. The round pill tray contains 28 slots and each slot has room for about 18 tables. Dosage rings help you customize the dispenser according to the correct daily medication or vitamin regimen.
- Dispense up to six times per day (at each pre-set time, the dispense turns and releases the contents)
- Safety latch allows you to keep the dispenser locked at all times to help prevent accidental overdose (key included)
- Audio and visual alerts (customizable alarm rings and red light flashes each time medication needs to be taken)
Cost: Approximately $60
Accidents can happen, and we should take all precautions possible to prevent the mistake of taking the wrong medication. Using an automatic pill dispenser can aide your aging loved one each day and provide you with the comfort knowing they are safe. Explore the best option for you and take a once-a-week action to fill the dispenser properly and avoid the daily stress of organizing medication each day.