Taking meds seems straightforward – you take them regularly at certain times throughout the day. Wrong.
If there’s anything I learned from taking care of my mother throughout the years is that medication schedules are hard to track, especially if more pills are added to the list.
Caregivers know how busy it can get, and that’s on top of personal matters. My family solved the problem by experimenting with various medication reminder methods!
These work great for different situations, whether your family member is independent and only needs some help or for caregivers’ use.
The 4 Best Medication Reminders for Elders
I’ve tried a couple of multiple alarms – some worked, some didn’t. Here’s a narrowed-down version with 4 of my best medication reminder recommendations:
If Amazon has Alexa, we have Rosie. This stress-free reminder system is hand-free, voice-activated, and customizable to your loved ones’ needs. People call it a talking clock.
You can record the reminder with a familiar voice, prompting effective compliance for more “stubborn” seniors or older adults with early dementia symptoms.
I used this to record medication reminders and messages when my mother insisted on living independently. It strikes the balance of “letting them be” and “as if I was there.”
- Personalized voice reminders for up to 25 messages
- No complicated and hi-tech app settings; easy to learn for users
- Other than reminders, you can record any message in any language
- Functions without Wi-Fi; no monthly fee
- Can set multiple daily reminders (repeats for 30 minutes)
- Adjustable settings (volume and frequency throughout the week/month)
While looking for a medication reminder device for a person with dementia, I mainly wanted something non-complicated — and this one passed the test.
It has simple typefaces with large font sizes minus the complicated designs and confusing abbreviations. The light adjusts automatically when dark and is friendly to the eyes.
You can easily control it by using a remote instead of approaching the device every time just to hit snooze or stop. This is good news for persons with arthritis or busy caregivers!
- Large display and icons that are friendly to elders with visual impairment
- Set 19 alarm reminders with adjustable eye-friendly colors and settings
- Clear morning and evening determinants to avoid confusion (i.e., getting up at 2 AM thinking it’s 2 PM)
- Electric but with internal batteries in case of a power outage
- Remote control instead of a snooze button (great for people with arthritis!)
- It has five (5) pre-loaded languages
This one from OKRA is the best medication reminder for me. It combines voice control and a large display – the best of both worlds.
My mother also reaches out for this the most. The buttons are strategically placed so she can choose what she needs quickly without panicking.
It also looks like an ordinary clock and not an “elderly device,” as she calls it, which she greatly appreciates.
- Large display
- No hard-to-understand abbreviations
- Powered by electricity (with emergency batteries)
- Eight (8) reminders with a 30-minutes loop system
- Announces in six (6) languages: English-USA, English-UK, Spanish, German, French, and Italian
- Other features include a mute switch, flashing display, USB port, sun-moon icon, and gentle tune
This option is great if you’re looking for a more affordable medication alarm. It’s a functional medication reminder device despite not having as many features as those above.
It also comes with a voice reminder, although not customizable. It gets the job done, but I must admit, I get frantic when it beeps so loudly multiple times in an hour – and all the more for the patient.
If you’re a caregiver of a low-maintenance patient, I think this works wonderfully as an additional aid for pill reminders. A $10 to $50 price difference is huge!
- Alerts user with a female voice for up to four (4) times a day
- Crucial settings such as volume and backlight are available
- No app needed
- Battery-powered (2 AAs)
What Are Medication Reminder Devices?
Medication reminder devices are essentially alarm clocks but with more customizable features. Their primary goal is to help more “vulnerable” people with critical reminders.
With that same goal, there are a few alternatives to achieve this, which I’ll discuss below:
Alternative 1: Medication Reminder App
I have to admit a smart phone is the handiest device nowadays. If your family member knows how to use one, you can use a medication reminder app (some are even free!) for their meds.
You can do so much with the apps available – setting a time for pill intake, noting the proper pill doses, and even making the necessary phone calls.
A phone also has the date, time, timer, and all the apps you can imagine.
The only con is that if your loved ones are not tech-savvy, these complicated medication reminder app features will confuse them even more.
Perhaps it’ll be most helpful for the caregiver instead.
Alternative 2: Pill Dispenser with Medication Reminders
If caregivers can’t guarantee hands-on medication preparation, a pill dispenser will do the job for you. It’s also great for busier elders.
The pill dispenser will automatically release the medications following the set timer, with supposedly correct doses.
I’d recommend this for high-functioning patients with fewer medications and pills to take. It serves as an “assistant” to remind and track maintenance medications.
It can be dangerous for people with dementia or the more vulnerable ones because if the machine goes wrong, they might be disoriented (i.e., take multiple medications and pills, completely forget about dose medications, etc.).
Alternative 3: Pill Organizer with Medication Reminder
This is similar to the medication dispenser, but this comes with a pill organizer (or a pill box) instead.
The prescription medications and dose measurements will be pre-prepared, so the user can take the pills as soon as it’s time.
If you use a pill organizer, ensure that you prepare the medication carefully.
Do I Really Need a Medication Reminder Alarm?
It’s not a requirement. But as a caregiver who used medication reminders, I’d say it was a helpful addition that made taking care of my mother easier on top of all my other workload.
Reason 1: It Increases Efficiency
When caring for elders or family members, medications are not all there is. There are, for instance, a series of check-ups or an exercise or therapy program, on top of other things.
Forgetting and being preoccupied are common occurrences. The thing is, skipping pills is often not beneficial for their health.
These machines remind you about everything, not only weekly schedules. They can also recall your memories, clear up schedules, etc.
The best medication reminder that suits your situation will increase everyone’s efficiency.
Reason 2: It Lessens Medication Mistakes
There is no room for mistakes when it comes to medications! Skipping is one thing, but taking the wrong pill or dose is another.
Mistakes can be dangerous. There are prescription pills that shouldn’t go together, dosages that shouldn’t exceed, and maintenance medications that you shouldn’t skip.
A good reminder app is like a friend that’ll patiently remind you of these things. Medications come in a variety, which can be confusing and lead to errors.
They have different packaging appearances, names, labels, refill rules, etc. At least with a guide, it’ll be more manageable. When in doubt, ask your doctor or the most accessible pharmacist.
Reason 3: It Allows Elders to be Independent
When I started caring for my mother, she wanted to be independent. She hated being tailed around and dictated. But she forgets to take her medications.
These phone apps and devices helped us reach a middle ground. I fixed her prescription medication weekly, kept them in pill organizers, labeled the packaging, and set the time. Then I let her be.
She loves this little program we have going on, making her experiences more stress-free and contributing to her health. She still feels capable while I have my peace of mind. Win-win!
If you have a similar situation, I suggest doing the same.
Reaching a compromise without risking their medication needs is crucial.
Additionally, those that can record family members’ voices are helpful for patients with Dementia or Alzheimer’s.
Studies show that familiarity positively impacts them. Hearing a familiar sound may trigger nostalgia that brings good memories, improving their mood and quality of life.
Reason 4: It Helps Caregivers
A caregiver has lots to do. Depending on your patient’s needs, you’ll barely have free time.
A pill app or device like this can make your routine more stress-free as you ensure the best medication schedule for your patient.
What to Consider When Buying the Best Pill Reminders for Elders
Here are some considerations for choosing the best medication device:
The most important question is, who will use it? The user is the most important consideration because the features must suit them.
For instance, if the user is a non-techy senior, you shouldn’t use an app that will only confuse them further. More extensive displays and voice alerts would be helpful if it’s for an independent elder.
If they have visual impairments, it would be best to have an app or device that they can hear. You get the gist!
2. Ease of Use and Convenience
Building on that, the app or machinery used should be easy to navigate regardless of the users (or else you’ll end up not using a difficult app).
It should be easy enough to become a habit. Remember, we use the app or device to make lives more accessible and stress-free, not the other way around.
There is also a pharmacy service option wherein they place the medication in a pill organizer. No more generic packaging confusion, and they’ll customize the organizer packaging for you.
But note that it’s a packaging service, so it’s likely not for free. There are charges (usually monthly).
3. Budget and Fees
Medication brands are expensive enough. I understand if a costly clock isn’t a priority for you.
Financial considerations are vital because you wouldn’t want to compromise the medication budget for a fancy app or device.
Opt for a cheaper (or even free) option as much as possible. You can use a simple app, an affordable device, reuse a rarely touched pill organizer, etc. You can even DIY a pill organizer!
Frequently Asked Questions [FAQs]
Can an iPhone Remind Me to Take Medication?
Yes! An iPhone has useful app options for that. You can also use the default clock app for free. A medication alert is simply a timer, after all.
What Happens if I Don’t Take My Medication Schedule on Time?
Not following your medication schedules will worsen your condition, prolong recovery, or even lead to death. It’s never advisable to take medication lightly, especially for elders.
A medication alert device adds to our quality of life, not only for the caregivers but most especially for our loved ones.
We shouldn’t take our meds for granted; thankfully, there are aids like this to help us. Try incorporating this into your routines for wellness improvement – it’s worth it!