Not taking meds as directed?

Taking the right medicines at the right time is extremely important to health management. But 75%­­–96% of older adults admit that they frequently make mistakes with their medication. Is your loved one among them?

There are many reasons why a person might not take their medicines as directed. “Forgetting” is one of the most common. But difficulty opening the bottle or reading the label can also result in medication errors. A pillbox can help, but choose carefully:

  • Are there enough compartments? Are they big enough to hold all the pills?
  • Are the compartment labels large enough to read (day of the week and time of day)?
  • How snug are the lids? If dropped, might one pop open and the pills go flying?
  • How finger-friendly are the lids? If your loved one has arthritis, a push-button lid may be better than one that requires prying to open.
  • What about traveling? Would the pillbox be easy to take on a trip? What about pills needed if dining away from home? (Also consider adding a small pill dispenser to their key chain. These make emergency medicines, such as nitroglycerin, handy for your relative whenever and wherever.)

As for reminders, some pillboxes come with automated alerts. But this assumes your loved one is near the box when it’s time to take the medicine. Consider instead setting reminders on their phone or smartwatch.

One pillbox alternative is to work with a pharmacy that sends pills prepackaged with each packet stating, in large letters, its contents and when (day, date, time) to take the pills. If your relative’s medications do not change often, this can be a fine solution. Plus, the packets are good for travel (out for the day or for several days at a time).