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The Electronic Pill Dispenser:

I worked in healthcare for 25 years and spent nearly 8 years as my mother's caregiver. I hope to share tips that can help others.

Maybe You Need an Electronic Pill Dispenser

As the number of medications you take increases, it can become difficult to remember them all or to take them on time. An electronic pill dispenser can be a tremendous benefit to assure that you maintain the correct dosage of each and every one of your medications.

On this page, I will tell you a bit about these automatic pill dispensers and show you some of the products that are currently available on the market.


Who Can Benefit From an Electronic Pill Dispenser?

Although anyone who takes medication might benefit from these automatic pill dispensers, there are those who are considered the target market:

  • The elderly. In many instances, the number of medications we take increases as we advance in age. If, or when this happens, an electronic pill dispenser can assure that you achieve and maintain the intended therapeutic level of medication your physician intended. They can help assure that you don't get too much or too little. For many elderly, a simple alarm is all that's needed, but locked dispensers are good when it becomes too difficult to recall which medications are needed at any given time.
  • Caregivers. If you are a caregiver/family member who cares for a person who takes multiple medications, these automated dispensers can bring peace of mind and help make your task of caring for someone much easier. Caregivers can merely load the dispenser with the necessary medications each week, every two weeks, or each month, and then allow that individual to handle their own medications. The dispensers that provide monitoring are optimal in these situations as they let you know if a dosage is missed or the dispenser is running low.
  • People with multiple medications or critical ones. Whether it's a child who needs to remember medication for asthma or diabetes or an adult who takes anti-seizure medications but finds they sometimes forget, a simple alarm can be exactly what they need. The portable size of the alarms makes them a good choice for these individuals.

Types of Electronic Pill Dispensers

There are a variety of medication dispensers on the market, but some of the most popular include the following:

  • Medication alarms. This first type of device isn't a true "dispenser" but is simply an alarm to remind the person that a dosage is due. The medications are not stored in the device and the alarm generally doesn't tell the individual which medication is due. On the other hand, these devices are small and portable. They perform the function of reminding quite handily.
  • A talking pill bottle. These simply play a recorded message that explains what a given medication is for and how/when to take it. These simple devices are good for anyone who has difficulty remembering physician or pharmacist instructions.
  • Electronic pill dispensers that emit an alarm, audible or visual, which notify the person that a dosage is due. These devices provide a reminder and are great for people who take multiple medications. The device houses the medications and generally makes them available only as they come due. If the device will be used by someone who tends to get confused about whether or not they've taken their medication for the day, then a locked version of these devices is a good choice. These devices can protect individuals from overdosing as well as forgetting their medication.
  • Automated pill dispensers with an alert for caregivers. These devices not only provide an alarm to remind the individual that a dosage is due, but will notify a designated caregiver if a dosage is missed. This assures that no dosage is missed. Even if the alarm does not result in the individual taking the dosage, then follow-up by the caregiver should. In most instances, this monitoring is free of charge.
  • Apps for your phone. For those who need a simple reminder and always have their phone at their side, there are apps that will make your phone your "electronic" pill reminder. Two examples are Medisafe and MyMeds Medication Management.
  • Monitoring Systems. There are systems out there that can remotely monitor someone for a caregiver. They can track things like activity, potential falls, blood pressure, weight, dietary intake, and yes, medications. These systems can also alert caregivers when warranted. One such product is offered by GrandCare Systems. In addition, some products originally designed as medical alert systems now include help with managing medications. Mobile Help, for instance, provides the personal help button to use when help is needed in case of a fall or other medical emergency, but it also can be used to provide medication reminders.

Some of these stand alone devices are designed for those who have low vision or hearing loss. The talking pill bottles are great for those who are unable to read labels or written instructions and many of the dispensers provide a vibration alert, flashing light alert, and loud alarm for those with hearing loss.

The Device I Used with my Mother

© 2010 Ruth Coffee

Let Us Know You Stopped By!

AgingIntoDisabi on April 28, 2012:

Pill dispensers have gotten so sophisticated. Thanks for showcasing some nice products.

anonymous on December 31, 2011:

@SeanFromCA: I bought a MED-Q pillbox. I set the reminder for twice a day at the times I chose. It reminds me with a beeping alarm and a flashing light. My Mom and Dad use it for their meds. they were always forgetting. This thing is great. It holds all my vitamins and more

SeanFromCA on August 07, 2010:

I forget take my supplement vitamins twice a day so a reminder would be nice, my pills are just daily vitamins so a hundred dollar device seems like overkill for me. But for the grandparents though, this would be great to make sure all the pills are taken at the proper amounts. The bigger units look large enough to handle a good amount of pills.

Great lense by the way.

irenemaria from Sweden on February 25, 2010:

I think I can have use for one....hope I can figure out how to drive it =)