I can’t remember any day that my mom and my dad were not taking all those pills they’ve taken regularly in the last 20 years at least. I also can’t forget my dad’s final months battling with Cancer, when his mind was already tricking him making him forget to take his medications or taking them twice, and spending hours and hours checking each box, focusing in some schedule, some confusing calculation that nobody else understood. Then I learned the hard way that indeed technology can help seniors to manage their medication.
As we get older, health issues can become common and many require constantly medication. It can be confusing to remind all the medications we need to take, the dosage and when we need to take them. Studies show that 44% of men and 57% percent of women older than 65 take five or more medications per week and 12% of both men and women take 10 or more prescription and over-the-counter medications per week.
Taking multiple medications is a reality for most older adults and taking these medicines correctly is essential for treating health conditions and managing symptoms. Remembering all of them is a challenge! That’s why medication management for seniors is such an important topic.
It doesn’t really matter if the seniors are in good health or battling some hard disease, or suffering from memory loss. It’s normal to forget to take medications from time to time, but if this happens often, it’s definitely an issue that should be addressed.
Putting a simple system in place and taking care of the basics helps seniors avoid common medication mistakes like taking the wrong drug, missing doses, or taking more than prescribed. With the right systems and tools seniors can safely take charge of their medication management and remain healthy for many years to come.
Steps to take to manage medications
We are sharing 9 important steps to take when helping your older adult safely manage their medications there are not really linked with technology but in the last one we include some helpful smart options to help with the medication management.
1. Get organized
Gather all kinds of medications, vitamins and supplements into one location.
2. Create and maintain an up-to-date medication list
Make a list of all current prescriptions and over-the-counter medications, including vitamins and supplements. What to include in the list:
- Both brand and generic names of each prescription medication, over-the-counter medication, vitamins, and supplements,
- Dosage and dosing instructions prescribed by the doctor (how often each item is taken? What dosage of each item is used?),
- The doctor or health care provider who prescribed each prescription medication,
- Reason for taking each medication and/or symptoms it’s supposed to treat,
- Duration of the usage (short term or long term?)
It’s important to make a copy of the list and give it to your different doctors so they all have a complete record of your medications to prevent negative drug interactions and therapy duplications).
3. Make sure medication instructions are clear
With medications, it’s important to follow well the doctor’s instructions. That minimizes the risk of negative drug interactions, side effects, and the drug losing effectiveness.
Make sure you and your older adult understand which medications are safe to take at the same time and which need to be taken separate in order to prevent negative side effects. Also some medications need to be taken on a full stomach while others need an empty stomach.
4. Make sure medication is properly stored in a safe place
The place where to keep the medications between doses is an important part of keeping them effective. Keep in mind that, in general, medication should be kept in a cool and dry place, typically labels advise preventing exposure to sunlight, heat, moisture etc.
Also, you and your older adult should remember to check expiration dates and always dispose of old medicines.
5. Plan ahead and pre-sort medication for the week
Pre-sort medications at the beginning of each week is an easy way to ensure that all medications have been taken.
Use a pill organizer to help you and your older adult pre-sort the medications that need to be taken during the week.
6. Develop a Routine
Making a habit of taking the medications is an effective way to remember to include them in your older adult daily schedule.
Figure out regular times of day that work for your older adult to take your medications and make that part of your routine.
7. Understand the likely side effects of medications
Knowing about the potential side effects and drug interactions helps you watch out for any health changes that could happen after your older adult starts a new medication, increases dose, or combines medications differently.
8. Plan ahead for medication refills
With long-term prescription medications, it’s essential to get refills ahead of time so your older adult won’t run out and miss doses unnecessarily.
9. Use technology to help seniors to manage their medication
The most important tip of all: use technology for a smart scheduling.
You and your older adult can use your imagination, there are a variety of ways to set reminders when it’s time to take medicine.
Best Pill Reminders Available on the Market
1. Pill Popper medication dose tracker
It can be hard to remember if you’ve taken your pills for the day, especially if you have multiple prescriptions. What’s is best, despite being a super useful item, it’s extremely cheap costing less than $10.
What is it for? The Pill Popper keeps track of your daily dosage for the week.
How does it work? This med tracker features popping buttons that are labeled with the days of the week. Simply press down on the button for the corresponding day to set your reminder.
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2. MedCenter Talking Alarm Clock
What is it for? The MedCenter Talking Alarm Clock reminds it’s time to take ta medication along with the time and date using a repeating friendly female voice up to 4 times daily (Morning, Afternoon, Evening, Night). “Good morning. Please take your MORNING pills for the 20th.
How does it work? Designed to be easy to set (the alarm clock was developed to be simple and easy to understand with a direct function for aiding in medication compliance), easy to see (the alarm has a large-type backlight display for night viewing), and most importantly, easy to hear (it can be loud and even extra loud).
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Whether you are living with chronic issues, recovering from surgery or addressing age related safety issues, this help achieve medication management, simply and reliably. Moreover, the device is available in many styles to meet your needs or don’t worry because these caps do come with bottles.
What is it for? The TimerCap organizer automatically shows the time when the pill bottles were last closed, helping to avoid dosage mistake, potential overdose, detect or deter others from experimenting
How does it work? Just peel off the label, place it on the new bottle and now you are protected. Just close the TimerCap and the stopwatch automatically counts up the seconds, minutes, and hours so you can be confident to know the exact time. It is really easy to use, no alarms and nothing to program or set.
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4. Day Clock Extra Large Impaired Vision Digital Clock
What is it for? This unique 8 inch high resolution digital alarm clock clearly spells out the time, period of the day, full day of the week, month and date in large, clear letters with no confusing abbreviations.
How does it work? The day clock by American Lifetime is the only one of its kind to include a set of multi-function alarms. Set up to 5 daily alarms, with the option of reminders to take medications throughout the day.
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5. MedQ Daily Pill Box Reminder
What is it for? The MedQ pill holder is a medication reminder and organizer with Flashing Light and Beeping Alarm that offers 10 pill box containers.
How does it work? The MedQ pill holder has flashing pill reminder alarms which will flash directly on the pill container that needs to be taken.The beeping audio medication reminder also ensures proper medication management. Refer to the ruler image for pill quantity amounts for the compartments.
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Best apps to help seniors to manage their medications
Some older adults might like to set a series of alarms on their mobile phone. Tech-savvy seniors might find a medication management app useful.
There are lot of apps and websites specialized in medications reminders to use with a smartphone that could manage medication schedule. Just to make sure the medication is taken on the right day, at the right time.
One study found that mobile apps, improve medication adherence even for non-tech-savvy older adults. Below is a list of free apps you and your older can use.
1. MediSafe Meds and Pills reminder
Free app for iOS and Android. It’s the highest rated and most downloaded medicine reminder on the Apple store. Medisafe has 5M registered users worldwide.
Main features: Medisafe offers healthcare companies real-time insights into patient behavior. The app educates users about their medicine and condition. It keeps them going by sharing progress and offering useful tips. The app has proactive patient interventions and a proactive tracking. It notifies the user when it is time to take medication with customizable sounds. It also traks patients prescriptions and provides a notification when it is time to refill each medication.
How does it work: Virtual Pill Box allows a user to see all medications and schedule in one place. The app, through Medfriend, sends a notification to the user’s friend or relative if the “Take” button confirming that medication has been taken isn’t clicked. Doctors are also allowed to monitor medication adherence through the app.
Free app for iOS and Android. Also available for Amazon devices. Dosecast is said to be the most flexible and easy-to-use medication management.
Main features: Dosecast reliably sends dose reminders with or without an internet connection. It racks the time zone you are in and adjusts reminders accordingly, so patients get notified at the right time no matter where they are. It also offers schedules backup reminders for a configurable period later in case the original reminder isn’t noticed.
How does it work: With Dosecast patients simply need to enter basic information about each medication they take. This includes the name, dosage and how and when they need to take it. Reminders can be set up on a daily, weekly or monthly schedule, every few days or weeks, or for a pre-set number of hours or days after the last dose.The app adjusts to one’s changing day, enabling the user to take a dose early or postpone it as long as the user needs. Remaining quantities are tracked, and the app sends refill reminders. Also, the app logs medication adherence.
Free app for iOS and Android. the app also comes with a pro version.
Main features: MedHelper app is medication compliance and tracking app. It is designed to assist in managing the challenges of remaining on the schedule of taking medication. The app holds numerous categories of information including the name of medicine, instructions on how to take the medicine, side effects and reaction. Easy to install and full featured MedHelper is ready to become your 24/7 healthcare assistant.
How does it work: The app sends notification alerts when it’s time to take medication. The app tracks both prescription medicines that need a regular intake or take-as-needed medicines. An inventory shows the remaining quantity of medicine and details regarding the required next batch.
Free app for iOS and Android, with additional web functionality.
Main features: MyMeds app provides the user with the ability to create, track and share medication records with family, caregivers doctors and pharmacists. MyMeds creates the user’s personalized medication list and sets timely reminders to make sure the user does not miss any doses. MyMeds also provides the digital tools the patient needs to stay engaged in their health while connecting them to pharmacist Med Coaches so they’re never alone in their medication journey.
How does it work: The app sends reminders when it’s time to take medicine. It also allows the user to set customized medication reminders via text, email or mobile alarm. With the app, a user is allowed to make profiles of up to ten family members. MyMeds hence uses a digital as well as a human approach to address medication non-adherence.
Free app for iPhone and Apple Watch.
Main features: PillPack is intended to eliminate the frustration of recalling to take medication. Once signed up, patients get the meds they need every month. It also provides pharmacy support, automatic refills and free delivery.
How does it work: Patients need a few things to set up: their list of medications, doctors informations, insurance informations, payment method. PillPack transfer their prescriptions and set up their services. It coordinates with their doctors and insurance to gather all the patients prescriptions, it schedules patients first shipment and order their refills and it also package patients medication by time of day and send them to the patient.
The Bottom Line
After reading this post, we hope we believe that technology can actually be a great help to seniors who want to manage their medication independently. The lists we’ve created present different items and apps that can be useful for different cases.
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