Caring for a loved one can bring the two of you closer together. It can also be profoundly stressful. Caregivers receive little social support, and it takes a toll on their well-being. Nearly 60 percent of California’s Caregiver Resource Center’s clients show symptoms of depression. Another study found that 41 percent of people who cared for a spouse with Alzheimer’s had depressive symptoms. Caregiving can can even affect your physical health; seventeen percent of caregivers say their health is fair or poor, compared to just 10 percent in the general population.
It’s not that caregiving is inherently depressing; indeed, most caregivers say that their work for a loved one is rewarding. The problem is that caregiving is exhausting, with few or no breaks. No caregiver is perfect, and errors—including medication errors—can be catastrophic. This leaves many caregivers in a constant state of anxiety and exhaustion. An automatic pill dispenser is a small investment that can save you time, money, and maybe even your sanity.
1. Peace of Mind
When you’re a caregiver, especially if you are the sole caregiver, it’s easy to feel like the entire world rests on your shoulders. An automatic pill dispenser removes medication as a source of stress. You’ll no longer have to worry about your loved one taking too many pills, taking the wrong pill, or missing a prescription fill date. Medication errors are common and potentially life-threatening. Automating medication provides a safety net to help avoid a drug mishap.
With increasing awareness of the opioid crisis, many caregivers also gain peace of mind from knowing smart pill dispensers can help secure controlled substances, such as pain, anxiety, and sleeping meds. They can control access to meds by dosing period and provide notifications if the system is tampered with. Not only can this protect against prescription misuse by children and teens, but it can also alert parents when their kids attempt to access a senior’s prescription pills. In so doing, automatic pill dispensers don’t just keep seniors safe; they can protect an entire family.
2. Financial Savings
For most caregivers, the ability to keep your loved one living independently in their home as long as possible is priceless. The cost savings of an automatic pill dispenser can help justify the investment.
Assisted living costs an average of $4,000 per month. Nursing homes cost an average of $7,000-$8,000 per month or more. Adult day care averages $1,560 a month, while in-home health care typically costs more than $4,000 per month.
For the average family, these costs are a major expense and may be completely out of reach. An automatic pill dispenser helps patients manage even complex medication regimens. They also allow caregivers to monitor medications without being physically present. For many seniors, this can delay or even eliminate the need for additional care. Even among seniors who will eventually need more extensive care, delaying that need for a few months can give a family more time to save, and ultimately result in a lower overall care bill.
3. Medication Adherence
Patients who consistently take their medications have demonstrated that they require fewer hospital readmissions, trips to the ER and doctor appointments. They may live longer and healthier lives. They also save thousands in health care costs each year. Yet only 39 percent of people that take medications four times a day are adherent. In fact, about 30 percent of all hospital readmissions among older adults are medication related. An automatic pill dispenser can help your loved one avoid the out-of-pocket costs associated with extra trips to the doctor, hospital, or pharmacy, and the associated deductibles and copays.
4. Managing Inventory
In caregivers’ busy lives, sometimes the little things add up over months or years. Reducing medication waste is another way an automatic pill dispenser can be worth the investment. Caregivers can remotely determine how many medications are on hand without the extra trip to a senior’s home. A smart pill dispenser can give you reminders when medications should be ordered to avoid running out. Further, it can provide assurance that too many medications can’t be taken, thereby preventing your loved one from running out of medication early. Having a system that allows you to restock every 60 or 90 days allows you to get your medications from your community pharmacy or mail order service, with fewer trips and less time spent on counting, sorting, and checking.
5. More Quality Time with Your Loved One
Remember when you were able to just sit back and enjoy time with your loved one? Caregiving is important work, but it changes your relationship. Instead of movie night, you might spend Friday evenings dispensing pills. Rather than a quick morning coffee together, you might be sending text reminders to take medication. When you no longer have to daily keep track of your loved one’s medications, you can recalibrate your relationship, offering a chance for more enjoyable quality time together.
6. Greater Control over Your Schedule
The exhausting reality of caregiving work is that it doesn’t relent just because there’s a holiday or because you’re sick. This lack of breaks is a major factor in caregiver burnout. When you outsource pill dispensing and monitoring to a machine, you gain more control over your own schedule. That can mean:
Fewer missed days at work.
The ability to spend more time with your family.
Time to attend school events and field trips with your kids.
Fewer trips to the doctor.
A decrease in trips to check medication supply.
The ability to streamline your prescription refill schedule.
More time to yourself; sleeping in might no longer mean a delay in your loved one’s medication.
7. Better Work-Life Balance
Life shouldn't be just one long to-do list. But between work, caregiving, child-rearing, housework, and other daily demands, it can become just that. Medication management requires constant interruptions to your routine every single day. An automatic pill dispenser eliminates these interruptions, streamlining your workload. This can mean better work-life balance, and maybe even some time to yourself.
8. Remote Supervision
Caregiving is ultimately about ensuring your loved one remains in excellent health for as long as possible. That can be tough to do if you don’t live with them. An automatic pill dispenser allows you to maintain your own space while your loved one continues living independently. You can remotely manage their medication, ensuring they get what they need each and every day. That means more freedom for both of you.
Want to learn more about medication management and how an automatic pill dispenser makes the work of caregiving just a little easier? Check out our free guide, The Ultimate Guide to Medication Management.