A Guide to Electronic Medication Dispensers
Every, single day, you have to think about medication. As a person ages, the list of medications they’re prescribed has a tendency to grow along with the number of candles on the birthday cake. For seniors and their caregivers, that creates a constant obligation of the highest importance.
Not only is it crucial that a senior take every medication they’re supposed to each day, they also have to take it at the right time, in the right quantity and make sure they don’t accidentally mix any of their pills with other pills that can produce unwanted side effects. It’s a lot to think about and keep up with and it’s a problem that has to be dealt with every, single day.
Add to all that the memory issues many seniors experience and it seems nearly impossible that any senior is able to keep up with their meds.
As with so many of the problems people face in our modern age, there’s a technological solution. There’s a whole market out there of pill dispensers that provide automatic reminders to people who could use a little help keeping up with their medications each day.
Here are some of the main automatic medication dispensers you have to choose from.
The LiveFine has 28 slots to hold up to 28 days of pills. For each slot, you can use up to four overlays to separate out the pills needed at different times of days and you can set alarms for each. When the alarm goes off, it lets off both a sound and flashing lights, so even those hard of hearing can see when it’s time to take their meds. It also offers the option of locking the pillbox, to help protect users from potential overdose.
The Phillips Lifeline Medication Dispensing Service is a subscription product that requires monthly payment, but offers extreme convenience in exchange. Where many of the medication dispensers on this list still require seniors or caregivers to program them, Phillips Lifeline does that for you. You load the medications into the dispenser, provide Phillips with the medication schedule, and they do the rest.
All the senior has to do is press a button when alerted, and take the pill that’s dispensed. If they miss taking their meds at any point, their loved one will get a call from Phillips so they can check in on the situation.
MedReady sells a range of medication dispensers, all of which store medicine for up to 28 days and can dispense meds up to four times a day. Some of their models are standalone and can simply be programmed and used by the customer. The more advanced models are hooked up to a landline or cellular monitored so that the product will be able to alert loved ones if a senior misses one of their medications.
The Med-e-lert is available for a one-time cost, then you can program it for alerts up to 6 times a day. It has 28 slots available for medication and, like the LiveFone provides both a sound alarm and flashing lights. Reviewers say it’s complicated to set up, but works great and is easy to use once it’s programmed.
The MedTime can dispense pills up to 28 times per day. Caregivers can use a key to open it when it’s time to refill the dispenser, but keep it locked the rest of the time so patients avoid accidental overdose. In order to access their pills, the patients can simply turn the dispenser over and the ones it’s time for them to take will fall out.
The Livi has a sleeker look than most of the other pill dispensers on this list, resembling a fancy coffeemaker. It can hold a 90-day supply of up to 15 different types of pills.
Like the Phillips, it offers a monthly subscription and almost all of the work is done for you. You provide the details of the senior’s pill schedule online, pour each bottle of pills into the machine, and the product will sort and dispense them based on the information provided. If your loved one misses a dose, you’ll be alerted by text or email.
Cost: Contact the company for information
MedMinder has a range of medication dispensing products with varying features. They all provide multi-stage alerts that first beep, then flash, then provide a phone reminder if the meds still haven’t been taken. If the senior still hasn’t taken their meds after all the alerts, a caregiver will be alerted.
Some of the higher-cost models also lock all compartments except for the one with the medications that it’s time to take, to prevent the risk of overdose. And some come with the option of a medical alert lifeline that makes it easy for the senior to call for help with the push of a button.
Cost: Range from $39.99 to $64.99 a month
TimperCaps are a bit less complicated than the other options. They’re simply a vial that you can put your pills into with caps that include a timer. You can always see how long it’s been since the last time you took your meds, so you don’t accidentally take two doses.
The TimerCaps don’t actually provide an alarm, which makes them less useful for those likely to forget to take their meds altogether, but many customers still love the product for helping them remember whether or not they’ve taken their pills yet. It’s not as sophisticated a solution as some of the others, but can still be a useful tool for many seniors.
Alert1 is pretty simple to program. It provides up to four reminders a day and 28 doses. You can plug it in, but it also has a battery pack that can hold a charge for up to 48 hours for when you’re traveling or if the power goes out.
TabSafe is another subscription product that hooks up to a phone line to ensure that if a patient misses any doses, loved ones can be quickly alerted. You can provide the details of the medication schedule through their website online and it will automatically integrate with the machine. Some medications can be set to dispense on an “as needed” basis rather than at specific times.
Cost: Depends on distributor, approximately $100 a month
That’s a lot of choices for you to wade through. Hopefully this handy summary of what each one offers and costs can help you make a more informed decision with less work. The best medication system is whatever one you can figure out that works well for you and your loved one. Consider your options and let this one task become a little easier on you.