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Selecting the Right Pill Organizer for Your Aging Loved One

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A pill organizer streamlines the process of taking and tracking medicines. All the drugs are orderly arranged in one container without having to sort through multiple bottles. Systematic dispensing can prevent dosing errors. To find a convenient device, here’s what to consider, based on your loved one’s needs.

Medication Record

First, list all the medications and supplements your loved one takes. Documenting them will help you choose and fill the organizer. Type up the information on your computer to make it easier to update. Here’s what to include:

  • Medicine name and strength
  • Purpose
  • Dosage and schedule
  • Pill size, shape, and color
  • Name and phone number of prescribing doctor
  • Pharmacy phone number
  • Special instructions
  • Drug allergies
  • Emergency contacts

Once you’ve compiled all the data, print up five copies – for yourself, another emergency contact, your loved one, your loved one’s caregiver, and for reference at doctor appointments.

Seniors who need help with medication management can benefit from professional in-home care. In Birmingham, home care providers can benefit aging adults in a variety of ways. From cooking nutritious meals to offering timely medication reminders, the dedicated caregivers at Home Care Assistance are available to help your elderly loved one 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Container Size

Tally the number of pills your loved one takes daily. The total amount determines the ideal size and capacity of the device. Compartments should be large enough for easy filling and removal of pills. Take pill sizes into account, and decide the number of days you want the organizer to stock tablets. Organizers are available with four slots per day, for morning, noon, night, and bedtime doses. This design suits seniors who take several medications throughout the day.

Ease of Use

If your loved one has impaired dexterity, select a dispenser with push-button lids. The Arthritis Foundation endorses a few pill organizers with user-friendly features. Containers with the Ease of Use Commendation have sections that readily pop open with one touch. A curved compartment base also makes it easier to open lids. 

Conversely, organizers with snap-tight square lids can be difficult to manage. However, for a senior with dementia, this design is protective. A tamper-proof container prevents dosing errors caused by memory loss and confusion. Another option is a dispenser that locks.

Dementia can be challenging for seniors to manage, but they can maintain a higher quality of life with the help of professional dementia care. Birmingham seniors can benefit greatly from the Cognitive Therapeutics Method (CTM), an activities-based program designed to promote cognitive health and delay the onset of dementia. CTM is included at no additional charge with any of the in-home care plans provided by Home Care Assistance.

Visual Assistance

Color-coded compartments can help your loved one distinguish when to take medications. Clear lids make it evident that your loved one has taken his or her scheduled doses. For a visually impaired senior, look for lids with large, bold, and black lettering. Braille labels are also available.

Built-In Reminders

Electronic organizers have timers, sounding an alarm when doses are due. Some timers are paired with music, vibrations, or message screens. A high-tech reminder is an electronic voice, advising the number of pills to take upon opening the case. If your loved one has hearing loss, choose an organizer with flashing lights or a loud alarm. Some models let you adjust the volume and tone for different hearing levels. 

You can also find organizers that send alerts of missed doses by text, email, or phone call. With certain electronic models, you can ask to be called when electric power is lost or the organizer needs refilling.

Mobile Alerts

Some pill organizers come with free smartphone apps, sending a phone call at dispensing time. Alternatively, you can download a separate app to make reminder calls. As of August 2017, apps endorsed by Consumer Reports are Round Health, Medisafe, and CareZone. 

Each app lets you enter medications, set timers, and program refill alerts. Medisafe and CareZone are compatible with both Android and iOS devices, and Round Health works with iOS devices. All three apps protect health data with security features, meeting the privacy standards of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.


If the pill organizer will be used for long-distance travel, consider how it will fit into a carry-on bag or suitcase. Some dispensers include a pill splitter, adding to overall size. However, some models have removable compartments, enabling downsizing for travel. For discreet storage, fashionable designs are available, resembling wallets, clutches, and vanity bags. If drugs are required during short periods away from home, buy a small dispenser.

After Purchase

Once you’ve bought a unit, become familiar with how it works. If your loved one is independent with taking medication, demonstrate how the container is used. Then, make sure he or she can manage without needing help. Stock the dispenser according to your loved one’s medication schedule. To be efficient, fill all the compartments in advance for the labeled days. If your loved one can accurately portion out medicines, he or she can load the device.

If your loved one needs help managing his or her medications, consider hiring a professional caregiver. A Birmingham caregiver can help your elderly loved one manage his or her health in a variety of ways. If your loved one needs encouragement to exercise more often, eat healthier foods, or socialize on a regular basis, an in-home caregiver can address these and many other health-related concerns. To create a comprehensive in-home care plan for your aging loved one, call Home Care Assistance at (205) 438-6927 today.