Medication for seniors saves lives, boosts independence, and reduces pain. But for too many seniors, the burden of daily medication management is too much. Twenty percent of patients who take one medication a day are unable to follow their doctor’s medication recommendations. Among seniors taking four or more pills a day, that figure soars to 50 percent. Missed pills can cause chronic conditions such as heart disease and diabetes to get worse. Seniors who take too many pills can experience catastrophic health issues such as negative drug interactions, drug overdoses, and painful side effects. In addition, over or under medicating can contribute to the risk of falls, leading to a variety of other complications including broken bones, hospitalization, or the inability to call for help.
An automated pill dispenser reduces the risk of medication errors and mishaps, ensures seniors get the drugs they need, and creates a detailed record for caregivers and other doctors to review. It’s not enough to simply automate a senior’s medication schedule; you must find a pill dispenser that comprehensively addresses all of a senior’s medication needs. Here are five critical features a pill dispenser must offer.
Adequate Storage Capacity
Higher-capacity machines are safer because they allow caregivers to preload more pills and more doses. This reduces the caregiving burden and eliminates the worry that seniors might have to load medication alone or rely on taking pills from memory until the device can be reloaded.
The best machines not only boast robust storage capacity; they also allow large doses of medication. A 2014 study of Canadians in long-term care communities found that 60.9 percent of seniors take 10 or more drugs per day. An automated pill dispenser must be able to dispense all of a senior’s medications.
Automated pill dispensers simplify complex medication scheduling. The right pill dispenser allows medications and their schedules to be pre-programmed, and then notifies seniors when it’s time to take a drug. Some pill dispensers limit the number of notifications they offer per day or only allow for medications on a predictable schedule, such as at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Others can’t accommodate PRN (as needed) drugs, such as pain medication or fast-acting anti-anxiety pills.
The highest quality products can dispense up to 24 times per day, allowing them to accommodate even demanding schedules and high doses.
Monitoring and Reporting
Caregivers need to know if loved ones have missed a pill, but notifications of missed pills aren’t enough. What about warnings when a device needs to be refilled, or details about the last time a device was opened? Information is power. It enables caregivers to track medication history over time, to check whether a third party might be abusing a senior’s medication, and to ensure seniors always have the prescriptions they need. The more details an automated pill dispenser offers, the better.
If a caregiver has to physically access an automated pill dispenser to access key medication information, that may mean not having the information at all. Quality dispensers should instead offer cloud access to medication history. To protect patient privacy and security, the highest-quality dispensers also offer strong protections such as:
No need for extra connections
Backup access in the event of a power outage
The ability to change or stop medications in real time
Easy-to-read medication details you can access on your phone
This reduces stress and anxiety for caregivers and reduces the risk of your senior loved one’s data being compromised
Medication schedules can be overwhelming and stressful, even for young and healthy people. The best dispensers address this head-on by offering clear, understandable medication reminders. Some will even utilize both auditory and visual notifications when it’s time for a medication.
This enable seniors to easily access medications and eliminates the need to read, scroll through reminders on a smartphone they don’t know how to use, or otherwise struggle to get medication history. They just need to listen for the beep, or watch the dispenser to provide a visual cue. This ensures that even seniors with special needs—such as a hearing impairment—can follow simple instructions to accurately dispense..
The right automated pill dispenser can help seniors live independent, healthy lives. Caregivers rest easy knowing that their loved ones are safe and that their medical needs are addressed. So take time to educate yourself about the various products on the market. We’re happy to answer questions about how we can revolutionize care for your senior. Give us a call today!