8 Effective Medication Reminder Strategies for Seniors and Relatives

By Michelle Cemental

Whether you are managing your own absent-mindedness or taking care of a relative, medication reminders are one of the most useful aspects of daily medical care. From pill-minder trays to online calendars, a little help keeping track of multiple medicines can go a long way. At best, it's a way to save a little brainpower so you don't have to be super careful with your medication every time you take it. And in worst-case scenarios, effective medication reminders can be the difference between life and death. Here are some clever tactics to help manage medicines more easily.

1. Build a Morning or Bedtime Routine

One of the easiest ways to handle multiple medications is with routine. In the morning, you probably always remember to shower, brush your teeth, comb your hair, and so on because it's part of your morning routine. Likewise in the evening before bed.

By making regular pills or supplements part of your morning routine or bedtime ritual, it will become something you do automatically. Align this with careful preparation of doses and remembering meds once or twice a day becomes a breeze. Simply fit taking your meds somewhere in between changing into pajamas and taking out your contacts.

2. Set Up Timed Reminders

Do you have an active schedule that medication needs to be a part of? Many seniors are still working even after earning a respectable collection of daily meds. Or have a busy schedule of visiting grandchildren and attending meetings. And sometimes, your prescribed medication time is right in the middle of an active day.

The best way to deal with this is by sending yourself reminders based on what you know about yourself. If you'll be checking your email just before pill-time, send yourself a timely email reminder using Google Calendar. Or if you'll be out of the house, make sure the reminder is mobile through an app or SMS system.

There are also pill organizer boxes that come with a built-in reminder system. This is a great way to stay on top of your medication schedule.

3. Wear a Trendy Reminder Device

Sometimes, what you really need is a friend to tap you on the shoulder or wake you from a nap for timely medicines. With a reminder device, you won't need a friend to remember your pill schedule. A reminder device can be anything from pager-like to a sleek digital wristwatch. You can also find personal fitness watches and smartwatches that will function as digital reminders as well.

4. Take Meds With Your Meals

Medications are also easier to manage if you need to take them with a meal. This means that you can manage them along with your normal meal schedule. If you do a lot of cooking and eating at home, one of the best ways to keep track of with-meal medications is to store sorted doses where you keep your food. In the pantry next to your favorite sandwich bread, or in a sealed container in the fridge next to your breakfast milk. It's like leaving a note in the fridge for the family: you can't miss it.

This also works well if you prepare meals for a relative or for yourself ahead of time. Leaving a small cup of sorted medications next to the slice of turkey and dome of potatoes makes it easy to simply consume along with the rest of the meal. No need to remember to grab them from the pill cabinet or remember which bottle to grab.

5. Make Medicine Bottle Labels

Another common problem that we've all experienced is pill bottle confusion. The pharmacy uses the same bottles because they buy them in bulk. But it makes it hard to tell them from each other, especially when your medications have complex and/or similar names. However, grabbing the right bottle at the right time is vital to maintaining your health correctly.

Fortunately, you can make your own labels. In fact, you can make your own koozies and even sorted bottle caddies. Here are some quick and easy options in order of crafting involvement:

  • Rings of colored tape for the morning, noon, and night
  • Color-coded stick-on labels that contain the medication name and instructions in large print
  • Slip-on labels or koozies that you can change out with refill bottles
  • Baskets/caddies to sort bottles by categories
  • Custom bottles that you can refill

6. Find Pill Sorting Services

Of course, sometimes the problem is that you don't have any time to sort pills or no one to sort pills for you. Not only can you rely on an in-home caregiver to help you with this task, but there are now multiple services that offer free or low-cost pill sorting. These are often referred to as multiple-medication services or pill-sorting services. By working with one, you can save yourself or your caretaker hours of sorting pills to get more things accomplished.

7. Get Reminders via Mobile App

If you enjoy doing everything through a mobile app, this doesn't have to serve as a distraction. There are a variety of medication management apps available. Some are quite advanced, allowing you to photograph or even provide industry images of your medicines so that reminders come with helpful visual cues as well. 

The right reminder app can help you double-check the medications and learn about them every time you get a reminder. And you can also visually compare what's in the cup to the images in the app, providing one more layer of protection from making dosing mistakes.

8. Set Up Smart Home Reminders

If you like the highest tech options, then a smart home is the way to go. Smart homes like the Alexa Echo series and Google Home come equipped with calendars and reminders. This means that a friendly voice can remind you to take your medications as well.

In fact, with the right skills, you can even program a smart home to answer drug facts and offer additional guidance about your meds. Though as always with the cutting edge, have a backup reminder plan. Smart homes still 'go out' if your internet connection fails. And you'll still need to take your medications.

Remembering medication is a key part of enjoying your later years. And the best way to do that is to make it an integrated part of your lifestyle. For more insights on how to make your retirement or caregiving duties easier, contact a Caring team near you today!


Tags: Senior Health