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Electronic pill dispensers

Electronic pill dispensers

An electronic pill dispenser can help organize a person’s weekly or monthly supply of medication. A medication reminder alarm beeps when it’s time to take each medication and automatically dispenses the pills. An electronic pill dispenser often includes voice-recorded instructions and some can be phone-activated so that caregivers far away can monitor whether or not the medication has been taken.


An electronic pill dispenser is a great help for those who frequently need to take more than one prescription drug each day or for caregivers involved with elderly care. One of the most common reasons seniors end up in emergency rooms – some estimates are as high as 100,000 of them a year – is because of harmful reactions to medications. Drugs that don’t work together, negative side effects, or patients who don’t follow prescription directions are the leading causes. The higher the number of medications you take, the greater your chances of experiencing what experts call an “adverse drug event.”


The National Institute on Aging conducted a study on the benefits of electronic pill dispensers, using people between 65 and 84 years of age who were taking at least four medications per day. The study found that use of dispensers cut in half the number of days people forgot to maintain their drug regimen. It also improved subjects’ ability to remember to take a second or third dose of a medicine.


There is a wide range of electronic pill dispensing and medication reminder products on the market. The trick is to find something that works best for you. Two credible sources on assistive devices of daily living are Abledata (1.800.227.0216) and CAST, the Center for Aging Services Technologies. Both organizations describe available products and direct you to the company’s website and contact information. Also, visit your local pharmacy to see what products they offer. Make sure that whatever electronic pill dispenser you buy, the seller allows a 30-day or at least two-week return policy so you can test it out.


Here’s a short list of the kinds of electronic medication reminder products you’ll find on the market:


  • Reminders. These devices are available as watches, wristbands, pendants or clocks and timers that beep when you need to take a medication. Many feature voice recordings with pill-taking instructions.


  • Talking pill bottles.These products have a recording device on the bottle. You push a button and listen to a message (e.g., how many pills to take and how).


  • Smart bottle caps. These come with recordings or digital screens that display pill-taking instructions, or bottle holders that do the same when you place the prescription bottle inside.


  • Automatic or electronic pill dispensers. These devices dispense medications at the proper dose at timed intervals and notify the patient with a beeping alarm and flashing lights when it’s time to take the medication. Only the most recent dose is available so that if a patient misses a dose, there is no double dose. Pills are placed in removable trays that can be loaded by licensed personnel or family members, and many dispensers can cover up to thirty days of medications.




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