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How to manage your elderly relatives medication - Automatic Pill Dispenser

Updated on January 10, 2013

How many times have you found yourself thinking about the best way to manage your elderly relatives medication?
"My father always forgets to take his medication...","Mom took more pills than she should...", "She took the pills at dinner but not at lunch...".

It is true that the likelihood of taking drugs increases with age – as the result of changes characteristic of aging. On the other hand, medication relieves, controls or cures ailments if used correctly. We know, therefore, that the management of medication is a major concern for anyone who cares for a senior. Both the abuse as the lack of a medicine may result in critical, potentially fatal situations.

So, this Hub is on a product specifically designed to facilitate the management of medication - the Automatic Pill Dispenser.

What is it?

It is a device that allows you to store, organize and deliver pills in an automated fashion.

There are several types of automatic pill dispensers, more or less complex, for more or less days, with more or less space on each tab - which also involves a wide range of prices.

How does it work?

  • There are dispensers that need to be connected to the mains electricity while others run on batteries.
  • The dispenser is programmed with the hours when the medication should be released.
  • The pills are placed on the tabs for a certain period (the number of days for which you can prepare the medication depends on the capacity of the dispenser. There are simple models – for a few days – ou complex ones for up to 28, 40 or more days).
  • The medicines for a given time are released on schedule, accompanied by audible signal (can be a beep or voice message, depending on equipment).
  • The alarms go off automatically when the drug is withdrawn.

Benefits of the Automatic Pill Dispenser:

  • It facilitates compliance with the schedule for taking medication, especially for seniors with memory loss or when the caregiver takes care for more than one person;
  • Provides relief to the family, particularly when it will be away for a few days;
  • Accompanies the release of the drug with alarm sound and light signal (which remains active during a certain period of time (eg. of one of the models: 90 minutes));
  • Avoids overdosage and significantly reduces non-compliance;
  • The family always knows if the drug was released or remained in the dispenser;
  • The dispenser is typically secured with a lock, necessitating the use of key to putting more pills or programming of alarms.

Disadvantages / Risks:

  • The initial programming may be difficult to understand for some elderly people, needing the support from family / caregiver;
  • It is not usable by people with significant cognitive impairments, who may not understand the operation of the equipment and / or get scared with the alarms;
  • It must not be forgotten to replace, with time, the medication when it is to end (some models communicate with the caregiver by voice or text message to inform that the medication is low).

Particularly in this holiday period, in which seniors spend some time without the presence of family, the automatic pill dispenser is a very useful help.

With this solution you’ll no longer need to worry constantly about the medication of your elderly relative.

Be well!


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    • profile image

      Alicia Foley 

      7 years ago from Connecticut

      Not many people are as familiar with automatic medication dispensers. This Hub does a great job explaining how it work and balances the pros and cons well. Voted up.

      All the best-

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      A real problem solver for the two of us has been the med-q pillbox. Iyt is ana utomation pill dispenser that we program the times for him to takes his pills and Med-q does the rest. It has two aoarlsm, one pill alarm with flashing lights and one pill alarm with a loud beeping. It makes forgetting or double dosing impossible. I got it it and it has been great

    • PedroLeiteAntunes profile imageAUTHOR

      Pedro Leite Antunes 

      7 years ago from Portugal

      leedee, thanks for your comment and recommendation!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      My Mother is experiencing some dementia issues. It has been diagnosed as the early stages of Alzheimers. I was calling her twice a day to remind her to take her pills. She said she was, but it turns out she wasn't. In April, she double dosed and ended up in the ER. I bought her a MED-Q pillbox. It has a flashing alert in the individual pillbox that needs to be taken. When it flashes t also has a loud beeping alarm. She hasn't't missed a pill in over three months. I bought it on the computer at It has been great. I would recommend it to anyone who is worried about someone taking their pills properly


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