Why Medication Reminder Systems are Important
One of the wonders of modern medicine are the wide variety of medications that enhance both the quality and length of our lives. Today medicine is used to control blood pressure, insulin, cholesterol and even the rate at which our hearts beat. Yet medicines are both a godsend and a curse. If prescribed and managed properly they work. If not, then they are not effective and can even result in hospitalization or death. This is why having a medication reminder system that works is very important to your health. It is also important to “brown bag” your medications from time to time as part of good medication management practices.
Medication reminder systems must include more than a nudge to take the medication at the right time. They must also include knowledge of how you need to take the medication. Does it need to be taken with food or on an empty stomach? Do you need to avoid certain foods or drinks while taking it? For instance, many medications require that you avoid drinking grapefruit juice. Other medication may require you to abstain from drinking alcohol. Some work better if you take them before you go to bed, and so on. Your medication reminder system must include this information.
If you are taking fewer than six medications daily, you may be able to commit information on how to take your medication to memory, such as remembering to take Metformin with every meal. However, no matter how many medications you take nearly everyone can benefit from a medication reminder system.
Commercial Medication Reminder Systems
As you increase the number of pills you take daily, you may want to develop a more formal medication system than memory. A simple system such as using a pill organizer may work for you, but it can be annoying to fill a 7-day organizer every week. If you find that activity hard to complete on a weekly basis you may want to consider a 31 day medication holder, such as shown here. You fill it once a month. Your current day’s pills (up to four doses) sets in the front of the unit. The rest of the month is either shown with the green side up (haven’t taken) or the red side up (have taken).
A monthly medication reminder system can also be electronic with alarms and other reminders. The one shown here has recently been upgraded to include a calendar clock. However, adding technology means that medication reminder systems can get quite costly and sophisticated depending on how many bells and whistles they have.
You might also try phone apps that feature alarms and reminders. I tried a few of those and found that I would ignore the alarms. Or I would dismiss the notification thinking I would get to it in a minute or two. Later I would not remember whether or not I had actually taken the medication. For me, finding the right medication reminder system that worked was truly a matter of trial and error.
DIY Medication Reminder System
Personally, I found that the commercial medication reminder systems, that were affordable to me, didn’t help me much. So, I decided to create my own system. My system is simple. It doesn’t require loading it with pills each month or week (which I found to be a drudgery). And my system is inexpensive.
My medication reminder system consists of two ordinary baskets you can purchase at Target or other department stores. I bought two of the small baskets with liner shown here. They were actually designed to hold CDs. What size basket you need depends on how many pills you take each day. Simply purchase two matching baskets that can be stacked one on top of the other. I advise purchasing baskets versus a box with a lid because you want to be able to see into it and get to your medication quickly and easily.
I use one of these baskets to hold any extra medication that I am not currently taking, or take occasionally, such as Claritin D. The second basket is also used to keep any refills that I get early and any extra supplements I purchased on sale. I keep the basket of “extra” medications stored underneath the other basket which only holds my daily, current medications.
This keeps my medication handy and on the counter. It also looks a lot nicer than some big 30-day medication reminder system, as you can see here. This simple two-basket system keeps all my medication in one place. It’s a medication reminder system that is really quite attractive. It looks like it belongs in my kitchen. Unless you peer into the basket you would never know what it holds. It sits on the back of my counter, convenient, but out of the way.
I keep all of my medications that I take daily in their original bottles in the top basket. Every morning, as soon as I get up, I turn every bottle upside down. It’s quick and easy. I don’t have to lift a lid or pop open a container. Just reach in and flip. Step one in the morning is simply to turn every bottle upside down as soon as I get up. Then I am free to get my coffee (my first medicine of the day). If I need to take a medication multiple times a day, then I take out the pills needed for the day and set them on top of the bottom of the bottle. When I take my first dosage of the day is when I take out the rest of the day’s medication and place it on the bottom of the bottle.
I turn the bottles upside down for two reasons. First, the design of most bottle bottoms have a ridge or are concave so they serve as a good, relatively secure, place to contain multiple dosages of medication. Whereas the tops of bottles are flat and smooth which would allow medication to roll off and fall into the basket. The second reason I turn the bottles over is that it is a clear reminder that I have not yet taken the medication.
Once I take the medication, I turn the bottle right side up. Using a basket and flipping medication bottles has proven to be a very effective medication reminder system for me. It is quick, visual and very easy to maintain medication reminder system. It also ensures that should I need a reminder on how to take the medication that information is readily available on the bottle. I am also constantly aware of how many pills I have left, which is helpful for remembering to call in medication refills to the pharmacy. Since implementing this system I rarely forget to take my medicine as prescribed, and that has resulted in blood test results that please both my doctor and me.
Also worth noting in the picture is how I separate my morning medication from my evening medication. My morning medication in on the left in the picture. My evening medication in on the right. Medication I need to take throughout the day is in the middle of the basket.
Choosing a medication reminder system that works for you is very important. Should none of these systems work for you, then keep working on it until you find one that does. Ensuring that you are taking your medication properly and on-time is essential to your overall health and longevity.
When you need more than a Medication Reminder System
If you need a more personal touch, or secondary monitoring of whether or not you are taking your medication on time, please consider hiring Covenant Home Care. Medication reminders are one of the services that we offer, along with other caregiving activities, such as companionship, meal preparation, light housekeeping and more.