In order to gain the benefits of a well-designed drug regimen, older adults must be able to adhere to it. However, poor adherence remains a challenge due to complex drug regimens or cognitive impairment. Medication boxes can assist by providing structure, in which all the doses are place in a compartment for a specific time of day, usually up to four times a day. But medication boxes, also called “Four by sevens” may not suffice in the cognitively impaired. AS memory health issues progress, it is not uncommon for the person to comprehend the concept of time and the related structure and the medication box. This is a circumstance in which automated medication dispensers with alarms can serve a purpose to extend an older persons time living independently at home. One such device, the MedReady, is one I’ve worked with for a number of years, with good results.
The MedReady (see link below for specific information) comes in several models, all of which are affordable and less expensive than other automated systems. The first, is the basic MedReady that allows you to store a weeks’ worth of medications (up to four times a day or a two week supply for twice a day dosing, etc.) in a tray that remains locked. There are four separate alarms that can be set for differing times of day, and to go off for varying lengths of time, thereby allowing the person flexibility if they are not in the area of the box to still access medications. When the time period expires, the medications automatically rotate back into the locked tray thereby preventing double dosing or taking medications at the wrong time of day. The system also comes with battery back-up and it can be transported easily to any location, for travel or to another household.
Other models offer the following features: A flashing light for the hearing impaired; a low frequency alarm for those who are hearing impaired at higher frequencies, and the opposite high frequency alarm. A neat feature is the modem that allows caregivers and providers to monitor adherence via the web based platform, for a nominal monthly fee of around $20. We’ve tested this feature and found it easy to use and useful at measuring adherence, just short of being able to see the person take their medications.
If you need an automated device for someone with cognitive impairment who can no longer comprehend the use of a standard “Four by seven”, the MedReady is your next best option.
Note: The author receives no funding or royalties from MedReady Inc.