Will robo-pill help Mom take her meds?
April 25, 2010 5:35 AM   Subscribe

Does anyone have experience with the Phillips Medication Dispenser service?

We are dealing with my mother and her advancing Alzheimers/memory issues. She's still living on her own and, up until recently, was getting along fairly well, except for an increasingly failing short-term memory.

Recently, though, she has started having real issues with her medications. She really only has three pills to take. One (for her thyroid) she has been taking for ages and is part of her long-term memory. She takes it without fail. Her other two (ironically, for her memory as well as a bit of a mood-booster) she simply can't keep straight anymore. She's constantly moving her pillbox around the house, refilling the pillbox as soon as she empties a day's section, possibly skipping days, mis-placing bottles, etc. etc. It's driving us nuts, of course, especially since we have to work with her by remote, since we are 70 miles away.

Recently, we were introduced to the Phillips service by a hospital care worker (when visiting my wife's step mom in rehab.) We think it's a great idea. Of course, Mom will still have to actually take the pills, but the machine would solve the problem with her moving medications around and "losing" them, as I explained above.

The care worker quoted a cost of $50/month. It's a monitored service where they call us if Mom doesn't remove the dispensed meds from the machine. We haven't dug deeper to see if there are other hidden expenses. One obvious expense would be refills of the little cups. I can't imagine those being too expensive.

Has anyone here used one of these things in a similar situation? Did it improve things? Was it largely ignored?
posted by Thorzdad to Health & Fitness (3 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
A cheaper, non-monitored solution (a product, not a service) also exists. My grandmother, whose situation sounds similar to your mother's, has one of these automated medication dispensers, which cost around $300.

Of course, she forgets to take her medicine at least once a week, even though it has an alarm on it. But my grandmother is at the point where there's a good chance she probably wouldn't remember to take her medicine at all if it weren't for the machine.
posted by madcaptenor at 5:59 AM on April 25, 2010

Another solution that some pharmacies here have started to offer is pill packing -- they'll basically put all your pills into a little bubble-wrap looking thing, that's much like those pill boxes -- one spot for each time of day, one for each day of week. But not refillable -- the pharmacy does all the packing, so your mother isn't refilling anything, or keeping track. Either she takes the meds and they're gone, or she doesn't and they're still there. You might want to look into whether that's an option, as well, if it's sufficiently robust for her needs.

Sorry, not a comment on the machine, but wasn't sure if you knew this existed.
posted by jacquilynne at 6:32 AM on April 25, 2010

Thanks, folks, but the thing that appeals to us is the monitoring. We need to know if she is, in fact, taking her meds on schedule. The fact that we would get a call if she didn't take her meds withing a prescribed time works for us.

Still, I'll look into these alternatives as they do seem to provide a more affordable alternative.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:49 AM on April 25, 2010

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