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Dear Savvy Senior,
My mom and dad could sure use some help keeping up with all their medications. Between the two of them, they take 11 prescription drugs and that doesn’t include all the vitamins or over-the-counter medicines they take. Their kitchen counter literally looks like a pharmacy. What can you recommend that can help them keep up with their medicine?
Pill Tracking Patty
Anybody who juggles multiple medications can relate to the problem of forgetting to take a medication, or not remembering whether they already took it. Here are some solutions that can help.
Getting organized and being reminded! This is the magic combination that can help your parents stay on top of their medication regimens. And with all the self-help products and tools that are available today, it’s easy to do.
Today, there are a bevy of inexpensive pill organizers and medication reminders on the market that are incredibly helpful, and the best place to find them is at www.epill.com (or call 800-549-0095). This is the granddaddy of medication helpers that offer dozens of different pill boxes, vibrating watches, beeping pill bottles and pagers, and even dispensers that talk to you. Forgettingthepill.com is another good resource to check. And for some unique medication management products, consider the following:
• Talking pillbox: For $70, MedCenter (www.medcentersystems.com; 866-600-3244) offers a neat product that organizes a month’s worth of pills and alerts you up to four times a day when your medication is due.
• Smart pillboxes: These are small, fit-in-your-hand, high-tech, portable devices that chime or beep when it’s time to take your medication; let you know which medicine to take at that particular time; how to take it; and will remind you if you missed a dose. They can even be set up to alert a caregiver if desired. To learn more, see the Med-eMonitor (www.informedix.com; 888-582-4480; $30/month rental fee) and MedSignals (www.medsignals.com; 866-965-9200; $200 purchase price).
Another way you can simplify your parent’s medicine consumption is by prepackaging their individual doses, and there are various ways to do it. One is with DailyMed (www.dailymedrx.com; 800-973-1955), a pharmacy dispensing service that provides, sorts and organizes prescription drugs, vitamins and over-the-counter medications into individual, single-dose packets that are labeled in large print with the day and time they need to be taken. The cost for DailyMed is $15/month, not including medication costs. Or if you want to do it yourself there’s Dose Guardian ($200; www.doseguardian.com; 804-726-5448), an easy-to-use home device that lets you do the organizing and packaging right at your own kitchen table.
If your parents are in need of comprehensive medication assistance, consider EMMA ($10/day rental; www.inrangesystems.com; 814-940-1870), MD2 ($745; www.epill.com/md2.html; 800-549-0095) or CompuMed ($900 or $100/month rental; www.compumed.com; 800-722-4417). These are sophisticated, home-based machines that will not only remind your parents when it’s time to take their medication, it also dispenses exactly what they need to take and will report to a caregiver if they miss a dose.
If forgetfulness is the main problem, there are electronic services available today like OnTimeRx where you can have your parents called, e-mailed or paged for all types of reminders -- daily medications, monthly refills, doctor and dentist appointments, or other events, for $10 to $30 a month (407-843-8966; www.ontimerx.com). CareCalls (www.parentcarecall.com; 888-275-3098) is another service that offers medication reminders, wake up calls and more over the phone, along with caregiver alerts if your loved one doesn’t answer within three tries.
Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit www.savvysenior.org. Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC Today show and author of “The Savvy Senior” book.
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