Not taking prescribed medication Ė noncompliance Ė can have
serious health consequences. The reasons why people forget
or donít take medications are varied. Maybe the doctor
didnít explain how to take it properly. Maybe they feel
better and think they donít need the medicine anymore. Maybe
they just forgot.
Anyone who cares for someone with a chronic illness for very long
will soon realize there is much to be learned about how to organize
medications. There are many ways to remind patients which
medications to take when. In addition, what about those patients who
insist on taking medications on their own? Are there ways to remind
them about medicines that are unobtrusive and fit into the routine
of every day life? How about a system that can help several
caregivers adapt to the schedule without too much explanation?
The most common type of medication system is the simple box with
slots for different times of day. Caregivers sort out medications
generally up to one week in advance and place it in the correct
slot. At the appropriate time, the patient or the caregiver can tell
at a momentís glance which medicines need to be taken when.
Pill boxes can be purchased at almost any store, whether itís your
local drug store or your larger discount stores. Depending on the
number of doses needed every day will determine the type purchases.
Cost isnít generally a factor since these are the least expensive
option on the market today, starting generally at less than $10.
There are electronic pill boxes that can sound an alarm and store
medications at the same time. These are more expensive depending on
the brand ordered and the number of features required by the patient
for their medication system.
There are a variety of reminder alarms on the market today. These
can range from a watch that the patient or caregiver wears with
alarms that sound at various times throughout the day to computer
software that can be programmed to let people know when it is time
to take the medication.
Watches can be programmed with specific medication information,
patientís name, doctorís name, and a variety of other information
depending on the type of watch ordered. Alarms can be set to vibrate
or emit an electronic alarm when it is time to take a new medicine.
Patients who may have difficulty seeing smaller print may have
difficulty with this type of reminder. In addition, the elderly are
sometimes bothered by electronic beeps emitted by some of these
watches, so this may be a factor when making this decision.
Other electronic alarms can look similar to an alarm clock and have
settings for several different medications. These need to be
programmed in advance by the caregiver so that the patient is not
easily confused by the device. One alarm vibrates strong enough when
placed inside a pillowcase that it will wake the patient to remind
them that they need to take medication.