For seniors aging in place, taking medications on time is one of the most important parts of care. In fact, many seniors are on multiple medications. Seniors with cognitive decline and/or dementia, limited movement, or vision loss need help finding, remembering, and taking medications properly. By the same token, trying to keep track of multiple dosages and prescriptions can be difficult for caregivers too. Caregivers need ways to help seniors take medications on time. This is especially true if the caregiver is not able to be present at all times but is still in charge of the elderly loved one's health. One way to do this is by using a product called MedMinder. The features and functions of this product are detailed below.

Medications Time! MedMinder Lights Up and Sounds Off

The basic model of MedMinder is simple. It is a pillbox that organizes medications and reminds seniors to take the proper dosages at the right times. For a monthly rental fee (about $40 to $65) seniors can use these pillboxes and load them with information. By organizing medication dosages by time and day, MedMinder promotes independence. No longer does a senior need a caregiver on hand to remind him or her when to take medications. Instead, MedMinder lights up and makes sounds to alert a senior that it is time to take a pill.

There are two types of MedMinder products: Maya and Jon. Maya does not have the locking feature that Jon does. This feature is simple: only the pill compartment containing the proper dosage will unlock at the correct time. All other compartments will remain locked. For seniors with cognitive decline or memory loss, this is particularly helpful. This also means that medications refills can be more effectively managed. With MedMinder, losing or taking multiple doses improperly is avoided.

MedMinder Alerts Caregivers

Every 30 minutes, MedMinder sends a new reminder that it is time for the senior to take a certain medication. After several alarms have gone off and a particular medication dosage has not been taken, all caregivers on a given list are called, texted, and/or emailed. This list can contain many names. The medications alert may also mean that help comes for an injured or fallen senior more quickly. If nearby neighbors, friends, or relatives are on the list, a missed medications dose may prompt them to check on the senior's safety.

Reminders may take various forms, including a voice reminder recorded by a loving relative. Seniors with dementia may find this particularly comforting. Often, memory loss can cause them to startle or grow confused at "new" or unfamiliar voices.

Safety: Pharmacy-Loaded MedMinders and an Alert System

A new expansion of the company focuses on allowing pharmacies to fill trays with the proper dosages of medications that are readily transferrable into a MedMinder. This means that the senior or a caregiver does not have to distribute medications into individual slots in the proper dosages, which can be confusing. By allowing trained pharmaceutical experts to distribute medications in this way, MedMinder becomes even more effective.

MedMinder also offers an extension of their services, called "alert," which connects to the Lifeline service. Using a pendant or a watch, seniors can be connected to emergency services through the click of a button. The MedMinder machine itself has a tiny cell phone inside which works without landline or cell phone usage. The cost of the service is added to the monthly fee. The additional cost is about five to ten dollars per month. This can save money by replacing other, more costly emergency alert systems.

Are Apps as Effective as MedMinder?

There are apps that help with medications. For example. CVS Pharmacy has one that allows for refills to be ordered automatically or with one click. Many apps, typically free or low-cost, help keep track of medications, appointments, refills, and more. Although they do not do the work that the MedMinder product does, such apps can be quite helpful to seniors or caregivers with smartphones. They can help people keep prescriptions current and available and also receive plenty of alerts and reminders about their medications. It is important, though, to check with a local app store and to read reviews before downloading these types of apps. Some are not as useful as they purport to be.

No apps provide the physical medications dispensary properties of a MedMinder. However, used with a separate dispensary, they might be similarly effective. However, the locking and unlocking of the proper medications compartments is a distinctive and very useful feature of MedMinder (Jon).

For elderly loved ones who need help with medications monitoring, MedMinder (and other, similar products) are useful tools.Talks between elderly loved ones, their physicians, and their caregivers can help decide whether such products are viable options in each particular case.

Sources

Comstock, Jonah. (August 8, 2016). Connected pillbox maker MedMinder raises $500k to fund expansion into pharmacy space. MobiHealthNews.com. Available at http://www.mobihealthnews.com/content/connected-pillbox-maker-medminder-raises-500k-fund-expansion-pharmacy-space. Retrieved November 4, 2016.

Google Play Store. Med Minder--Free. Google. Available at https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.garland.medminderfree&hl=en. Retrieved November 4, 2016.

MedMinder. Help your Mom/Dad stay Independent. MedMinder. Available at https://www.medminder.com/. Retrieved November 4, 2016.

The Eddy. MedMinder Medication Dispenser. St. Peter's Health Partners. Available at http://www.sphcs.org/workfiles/EddyHealthAlert/EddyHealthAlertMedMinderFlyer.pdf. Retrieved November 4, 2016.

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