How To Choose The Best Pill Dispenser For Elderly

A pill dispenser makes it easier for the elderly to follow the doctor-recommended dosage for their medications.

You can sort pills by day and even by time of day (e.g. morning, afternoon and evening).

A pill dispenser not only makes it easier to track dosages, it also helps seniors remember when to take their medicine.

Some dispensers have built-in alarms that go off at specific times.

Pill dispensers are ideal for seniors who don’t have round-the-clock caregivers to administer medication, seniors who take multiple medications and seniors with dementia.

We’ve rounded up the 5 best pill dispensers you can buy online. We based our picks on their ease of use, versatility, capacity and features.

But first, a few tips on how to choose the best pill dispenser for your needs.

What to consider when choosing the best pill dispenser for elderly

a) Capacity

There are two types of capacities to consider: the number of doses per day and the number of pills the dispenser can hold.

The first one is important if you take multiple dosages per day. You need a dispenser with several compartments for different times of the day.

Also check whether the dispenser can hold an entire dose’s worth of pills. Most dispenser can hold about a month’s worth of pills.

A bigger pill dispenser reduces the number of times you need to refill it.

b) Ease of Use

This is especially important for seniors who have to refill their own dispensers.

The pill dispenser should be easy to fill with pills, easy to configure (for programmable dispensers) and should have no trouble dispensing a pill.

Because it is hard to tell how easy the dispenser is to use before you buy it, check customer reviews to get an idea. See if people had problems using the dispenser.

c) Alerts/Alarms

If you are concerned that you or your loved one might forget when it’s time to take a pill, get a pill dispenser that produces an alert or alarm at specific times.

Make sure the alarm is loud enough to be heard from a different room.

In addition to an audio alert, check if it flashes any lights. This is helpful for seniors with hearing difficulty.

d) Lockable

The pill dispenser should have a secure locking mechanism to keep kids or pets away from the pills. Even if there are no curious kids, having a lockable dispenser ensures the pills don’t spill accidentally.

It also keeps the user (especially those with dementia) from tampering with the medication.

e) Connectivity and Remote Monitoring

You may want to monitor your elderly family member’s dosage. Are they taking medication at the right time? Are there any missed dosages?

A pill dispenser with a remote monitoring feature can help with this. The dispenser will send you an SMS or alert when a dosage has been taken or missed.

Some pill dispensers use wireless connectivity such as Wi-Fi or Bluetooth to provide remote monitoring. You can even configure the dispenser from your phone wherever you are.

Reviews of the top rated pill dispensers for the elderly

1. TabTime Medelert SII Automatic Pill Dispenser

This is the most expensive pill dispenser among our picks. But we believe it is the best one for most seniors.

It is an automatic dispenser with lots of helpful features including alarms (audio and visual), a clock and a lockable lid.

But what we love most about it is the large capacity.

It can dispense pills between 1 and 6 times a day, providing plenty of flexibility for different types of dosages.

If you take just one pill a day, it holds enough pills for 28 days.

If you take two pills a day, you’ll need to refill it twice a month.

The individual compartments fit most pill sizes.

The tray is easy to refill. The labels for days and times of the day are clear and easy to see.

Unlike some dispensers, tiny pills don’t migrate to other compartments when the dispenser is shaken.

We also love the solid lockable lid. It prevents anyone, whether a child or the user, from tampering with the pills.

The lid locks and unlocks with a key.

You can set up to three alarms to ensure your loved one doesn’t forget to take their medicine. The alarm will go off after 30 minutes of when the dispenser is tipped to dispense a pill.

A red light also flashes when the alarm goes off.

Pills dispense from a slot on the side of the dispenser.

Tip: Some users noted that their elderly family members find it difficult to tip the dispenser the right way such that the slot is at the bottom. Either the pills fail to dispense (causing the alarm to keep going) or they fall on the floor. Use a bright marker or nail varnish to mark where the slot is and make it easier to see.

The pill dispenser is powered by 4 AA batteries. A low battery alarm will go off to remind you to change the batteries.

What we like about it:

  • 12hr/24hr clock.
  • Audio and visual alarm.
  • Easy to refill and use.
  • Large capacity.

2. Anabox Weekly Pill Organiser

If you prefer something cheaper, this basic pill organiser is perfect.

It’s a simple pill box that allows you to sort a week’s worth of pills. There are slots for every day of the week and each slot has five compartments for multiple daily dosages.

All compartments are clearly labelled with days of the week and times of the day (morning, noon, evening, night and ‘as required’).

When pills for a certain day are taken, you simply slide off that slot/dispenser to provide access to the next day’s pills.

One nifty feature we really like is that you can carry a single dispenser for that day with you instead of the entire box.

This is handy for seniors who travel. Each dispenser is self-contained so pills won’t spill out when you slide it out of the box.

The individual compartments for different times of the day are big enough for multiple pills. The morning one is slightly larger though to cater to those who take more meds in the morning.

The morning compartment measures 3cm wide by 3.5cm long. The others are 2cm wide and 3.5cm long. All compartments are 2cm deep.

Using the dispenser is easy even for seniors with arthritis.

You slide the clear lid until you get to the compartment you need. The lid does not come all the way off; it stops at the last compartment. This ensures you don’t lose the lid or have trouble putting it back.

If you need to access pills from the ‘as required’ slot, simply slide the lid the other way.

The dispenser is available in three colours: a stylish rainbow style, blue and white.

Our only complaints about the Anabox Weekly Pill Organiser is that you have to refill it weekly (a minor inconvenience) and that it lacks a lockable lid.

There is no way to stop a loved one with dementia from tampering with the way the pills are sorted.

But for most seniors, it’s perfect.

What we like about it:

  • Affordable.
  • Very easy to use.
  • Versatile – you can sort multiple dosages per day.
  • Easily portable.

3. AUVON iMedassist Weekly Pill Organizer

If you are looking for an even cheaper weekly pill organiser, this one by AUVON is a good choice.

It has a very high rating on Amazon with most users saying that their elderly parents and grandparents found it easy to use.

The organiser’s design focuses on capacity rather than versatility.

You can only sort pills for up to a week and there are no slots for multiple daily dosages.

Instead, the organiser features extra-large compartments that can hold many pills, both large and small.

You can even fill them with enough pills to last you a month. You would need to cycle through the days until the compartments are empty (this may not be ideal for some seniors who might have trouble taking just the right number of pills at a certain time).

The organiser has colour-coded lids. But it’s not the rainbow style we like most – it’s the spring-assisted opening mechanism.

Just press lightly on the tab and the lid springs open. This is helpful for patients with arthritis or reduced body strength.

When they are done, the lids close just as easily and stay securely locked.

The print for days of the week is large and bold, making it easy to see for seniors with deteriorating vision.

The company says that they use a high-end screen printing ink that does not fade or scratch. The printing undergoes a 3M tape test to ensure durability.

What we like about it:

  • Very affordable.
  • High quality BPA-free plastic.
  • Easy to use even for users with mobility and strength problems.
  • Extra-large compartments.

4. MEDca Large Weekly Pill Organizer

The MEDca pill organizer is ideal for those who want a weekly organizer that allows for multiple daily dosages.

The design is quite simple.

There’s the main leather pouch that contains seven removable boxes for each day of the week. Each box is labelled and has a different colour for easy identification.

Each box has four compartments for morning, noon, evening and bedtime. So you can easily sort up to 4 daily dosages.

Individual compartments are large enough to fit several pills.

Overall, we love the stylish take on a product best known for its practical uses. If you don’t like the plain design of most pillboxes, you’ll love this one.

What we don’t like is that the individual compartments are difficult to open. This can be difficult for someone with arthritis.

It also makes it tedious to fill a week’s worth of pills.

What we like about it:

  • Versatile – you can sort multiple dosages per day.
  • Large compartments.
  • Stylish.
  • Perfect for travelling – you can carry that day’s box only.

5. JFA Medical Weekly Small Travel Pill Box

This one is perfect for seniors who travel a lot. It’s compact and lightweight and the stylish outer case is a step up from normal boring pillboxes.

The case holds a 7-day pillbox with four compartments per day for morning, noon, evening and bedtime.

As expected form a pillbox of this size, the compartments are somewhat small. They holds about 2 large pills or 3-4 small pills.

So if your loved one takes a lot of pills, this may not be the best choice (consider the MEDca pill organizer I have reviewed above instead. It’s also great for travelling).

The compartments are made from food-grade plastics with lids that securely stay in place when locked.

The lids are fairly easy to open even for someone with arthritic fingers.

What we like about it:

  • Includes a section for writing name, address and contacts in case the case gets lost.
  • Allows multiple pills per day.
  • Easy to use.
  • Stylish travel case.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How does an automatic pill dispenser work?

An automatic pill dispenser runs on a schedule. You set the time when each dose will be dispensed. At that time, an alarm sounds and the pills are ready to be dispensed.

Most automatic pill dispensers allow you to schedule multiple alarms per day, which is handy for someone who need to take multiple dosages in a day.

2. Pill organiser vs. automatic pill dispenser: Which is better?

A pill organiser just organises pills and tablets into different dosages for each day of the week. They do not automatically dispense medication and most don’t have an alarm. A pill organiser is a cheaper option is you need a simple way to help an elderly family member figure out which pills to take and when.

An automatic pill dispenser rings an alarm and dispenses the right dosage at set times, making it the better choice for seniors with problems like dementia.

3. Where can I buy a pill dispenser in the UK?

Amazon UK has a wide range of automatic pill dispensers and pill organisers/boxes. Most pharmacies including Lloyds also sell pill dispensers.

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