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Taking multiple medications can be confusing, so having an appropriate management system in place is important.  

Correctly storing medication and using the right pill dispenser can help your relative take their medication as prescribed, with less stress or anxiety.

This page contains information on:

1. Storing and dispensing medicines
2. Pill dispensers
3. Timers and apps

Storing and dispensing medicines

Storing medication appropriately can help your relative take their medicine as required. It can get confusing when they have been prescribed multiple medications, so it’s good to have measures in place. You should discuss prescriptions with your relative to make sure you both know about the dosages, how often pills need to be taken and at which times. If anything is unclear, your loved one should speak to a GP.

It’s important to keep a list of medications and dosages handy in case of an urgent situation, so that you can inform emergency services when they are providing support.

All medications should be clearly labelled and, ideally, stored in the same place in the home. However, always be sure to check the storage instructions on the medicine, as some may need to be refrigerated.

Pill dispensers and dosette boxes

For those who take regular medication, a pill dispenser can be invaluable because it offers a simple way to keep track of what needs to be taken and when.  This can be particularly helpful if a person is taking a number of different medicines at different times of day.

  • Pill dispensers are normally organised by the week, although some offer monthly management, which can be useful when travelling as they are usually relatively compact.
  • Dosette boxes tend to be larger and can be used to organise pills into daily compartments for the whole month. If you are not available to help and your relative isn’t able to fill the box, ask the pharmacy if they can provide their prescription in unit dosages or in a pre-packed dosette box. Otherwise you will need to organise for the box or dispenser to be refilled regularly.
  • There are also other types of dispenser available to suit different needs. Some are designed for easy handling, while others feature larger lettering or braille. It is also possible to find pill dispensers with built-in alarms to provide timely reminders.

Timers and apps

If your relative has difficulty remembering when to take their pills, apps and timers can help. If he or she is comfortable using a tablet or smartphone, you could help them to download and set up one of the many free apps that send reminders. For example, search online for 'pill reminder'.

If a tablet or smartphone isn't ideal, you could consider setting alarms for them on a digital clock or even a wearable smartwatch.

Taking medication

There are a number of gadgets that can help people who have difficulty opening their medication, either due to painful fingers or lack of strength in their hands.

‘Pill poppers’ help to remove a pill from its blister packaging and there are also a range of pill crushers and splitters that make it easier to prepare medicine.

If your relative has difficulty opening a medicine bottle, try a multi-grip bottle opener.

More information

  • Assistive technology for older people: read about the many electronic products and systems that use technology to promote health and wellbeing in the home, from telecare systems to personal alarms and mobile phones.
  • Home alterations: read about the changes you can make around your relative's home to improve their comfort.
  • Choosing and buying home care products: explore the range of products available to help older people remain as independent as possible at home.

Page last reviewed: November 2016
Next review due: February 2019