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Automatic Pill Dispensers: Can They Help Seniors Stay Safe?

Taking daily medications has become a regular part of many seniors’ daily routines. Some medications are meant to be taken at a specific time of the day, while others are intended to be taken with a meal. Some even provide a little more wiggle room, instructing patients to “take every 6 hours” on the prescription label. 

However, humans aren’t perfect in maintaining routines, and it’s easy to miss a dose or even double up on a dose when your regimen slightly changes or if you’re on multiple medications at once, known as polypharmacy. These kinds of mistakes can be dangerous no matter the medication with the possibility for overdose or letting a health condition go untreated. 

Automatic pill dispensers like Hero can come in handy to help keep you safe and on track by managing medication schedules, reducing risks of polypharmacy, and improving overall medication storage and adherence. Let’s dive into the details about these factors that can impact patient safety.

The Biggest Factors Affecting Medication Safety

Medication Schedules

It’s only natural that our schedules can change from time to time. From a particularly relaxing Sunday afternoon to spending the holidays with the family, there are days when you just have a bit more on your mind and can overlook your medication. 

For medications expected to be taken at specific times of the day, this forgetfulness becomes an issue. If you’re supposed to take medication every night before bed, it’s because it takes the medication about 24 hours to be processed and used in the body. 

Taking a pill late may leave your body without medication, and taking a pill too early may cause your body to have too much of a medication, resulting in increased severity of side effects and even overdose. 

With 89% of seniors over the age of 65 taking at least one prescription medication, and 54% of seniors claiming they take more than 4 prescriptions per day, it’s important to ensure you take your medication every day, and on time. 

Polypharmacy

Polypharmacy refers to taking five or more medications at once, often for different chronic conditions. When dealing with many medications, you will often find yourself with a complex schedule to follow. In many cases, this involves multiple medications prescribed by different providers, running the risk of the patient being over-prescribed or medications interacting in negative ways. 

Those dealing with polypharmacy may find it difficult to keep track of when each medication should be taken. This becomes especially challenging for seniors, who are often subject to  memory degeneration just as they become most susceptible to polypharmacy. 

Medication Organization

Organizing your medication is vital to ensure that each pill is taken at the right time. However, there is a right way and a wrong way to handle this organization. 

The Problem with Prescription Bottles

Nearly everyone has taken medication from a prescription bottle at some point in time. It’s not an issue for as-needed medication, but it is not an option when your medication is crucial for your day-to-day wellness. 

Taking pills from a bottle while trying to keep track of what you have and haven’t taken can become difficult with multiple medications, especially when the pills look similar. This becomes especially challenging for those with bad eyesight or memory issues. 

The Problem with Pill Boxes

For individuals taking medications daily, pill organizer boxes have been a go-to for many years. These colored boxes are often labeled with the days of the week, and their snap tops allow them to be stored with lower risk of spilling. 

The idea of pill boxes is simple: you fill each compartment (usually once a week) according to your medication schedule, you take your pills each day based on what’s in that day's compartment, and you refill the box once you run out. 

However, the size of the compartments can become an issue depending on the size of your medication taken each day. These containers can also be hard to get open, and unless you actually remember you need to take them, the box will remain out of sight, and out of mind. Moreover, these boxes typically only hold up to one week’s worth of pills at a time, meaning they need to be refilled regularly -- just another crucial task to add to your med management routine. 

How the Hero Automatic Pill Dispenser Can Improve Safety

When it comes to forgetting medication, an automatic pill dispenser is the safest option to help ensure doses aren’t missed. Hero allows you to see in real-time that your loved ones are taking their medication, on-time and in the right dosage.

  • Automatic medication dispensers allow you to set up customizable notifications to alert you or a caregiver when it’s time for a dose, and then dispenses the precise medication needed. 
  • With Hero, you can set up call or text medication reminders so you won’t miss the notification if you are in another room. You can also set up a notification for missed doses. Both of these alerts can also be sent to a caregiver for added inclusivity.
  • Hero allows you to look back at previous dates to check if a dose was taken or missed to bring you extra reassurance and peace of mind.  
  • With automatic dispensers, pills are also stored in a manner that keeps them out of reach of children while getting rid of safety caps that may be more difficult for older individuals to open. 
  • To make this system even safer for a family environment, a passcode can also be set to control who the meds are dispensed to. No more worrying about grabbing the wrong bottle and trying to read that tiny label.
  • Full med management includes monitoring refill needs. Luckily, Hero can be loaded with up to 90 days’ worth of up to 10 different medications, and will alert you whenever a medication is beginning to run low and a refill is needed.

Hero Provides More Than Safety -- It Provides Peace of Mind

Hero helps to ensure that seniors get the correct pills at the correct time, and that there’s a record of it, too, to keep everyone up to date and to give everyone peace of mind. 

By streamlining medication management, caregivers have a significant weight lifted from their shoulders, giving them more time to spend with their loved one instead of worrying about their health. Moreover, Hero empowers seniors by providing them with a newfound sense of freedom and independence.

Click here to learn more about Hero and see everything it can do to make med management easier and safer than ever.

Sources:

  1. https://ocrc.net/how-does-the-body-metabolize-medication/#:~:text=In%20general%2C%20it%20typically%20takes,therapeutic%20to%20reach%20the%20bloodstream 
  2. https://www.fda.gov/drugs/resources-you-drugs/drug-interactions-what-you-should-know 
  3. https://www.kff.org/health-reform/issue-brief/data-note-prescription-drugs-and-older-adults/ 
  4. https://www.helpguide.org/articles/alzheimers-dementia-aging/age-related-memory-loss.htm 

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The contents of the above article are for informational and educational purposes only. The article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified clinician with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or its treatment and do not disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking it because of information published by us.