Pill Organization for Dementia [Tips & Solutions]

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Professional nurses learn all about medication management in med school. They know how to organize patient pills so that the patient can take them without fear or confusion of any kind. I suggest informal or family caregivers learn about medicine management as well, especially the ones who take care of someone with Dementia. In this post, I will share the best pill organization tips for dementia patients and their caregivers.

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What is medication management? Why do Dementia caregivers need to know about it?

Medication management teaches us the proper way to store and organize different types of medications. Most medicines need to be stored in a dry place at room temperature, but some need refrigeration. 

Improper storage can lead to damage or early expiry of medicines. And consumption of such medicines can have harmful (in some cases fatal) effects on the person taking them. Hence, this is a crucial concept to know. 

Some people keep their medication in damp places such as a bathroom, panty, or basement. If this sounds like you, I suggest storing them on a shelf in your room. You can also place them on a bedside table in your room. 

I don’t know why someone would keep their medicine in a place like a bathroom, but I have seen people with Dementia do it. Also, people with mobility issues keep their meds in unusual places. I understand their reasoning but there needs to be a change in attitude.  

If you are struggling with mobility issues, ask a family member to get your medicines to you. This way there will be no misses or delays in medication.

Furthermore, it’s not possible for someone caring for someone with Dementia to administer medication 24×7. They need a break as well. And sometimes they are busy with an errand and forget to give medication to the seniors with Dementia. I think the person with Dementia can take the medicines by themselves if the pills are well organized. This is why Dementia caregivers need to learn about pill administration. 

What are pill organizers? How do they work?

A pill organizer is also known as a pill box or a medicine box. It is a set of tiny containers used to store medication according to the day and time to take them. These boxes come in several sizes and shapes. 

Someone who struggles with memory can benefit from storing all their medicines in a pill box. I suggest a caregiver or a family member help fill up the pill box for someone with Dementia. 

This medical device is relatively cheap, and it can last for years if maintained properly. 

A pill organizer can be helpful if you take multiple medications. For instance, you take one pill on Monday, another pill on Tuesday, and so on. Or you are supposed to skip a particular pill after a certain number of days. You get the gist right!

How to choose a pill organizer or a pill box?

You should choose a pill organizer based on the number of times you take your medicines daily. If you take one pill a day, go for a pill box with one horizontal slot. If you take three pills a day, go for a pill box with three horizontal slots. 

A pill box with three slots is the most popular one, as most people take their meds three times a day (morning, afternoon, and night). It can be difficult to find the right pill box for your individual needs, hence I suggest consulting a local pharmacist or your doctor. 

You can also buy them online— if the one suitable for you is available readily. 

These boxes have a label where you can write the patient’s name— in case you have more than one person on medication in your home. You can also write the date to take the medicines. 

Pill organization tips for dementia caregivers 

1. Pack the pill box once a week

Unless you have more than one pill box for one patient, I suggest packing the pill box once a week. I recommend performing this task on a Saturday or a Sunday, as most of you will be having a holiday. Once the packing is done, place the box in a fixed location— somewhere within the reach of your loved one. 

2. Let your loved one with Dementia pack the pill box

Generally, it is the caregiver or a family member who packs the pillbox, but people with Dementia can accomplish this task as well. 

If your loved one is struggling with cognitive skills, I suggest letting them pack the box, and you (the caregiver) verify the pills later. Compliment your loved one if they get it right, but do be harsh (with your language) if they commit a mistake or two. 

3. Make sure there are no distractions when you are packing

It is very easy to make a mistake with the pills when packing them in tiny boxes. More pills, the more likely you will make a mistake. The likelihood of a mistake goes up if you have different pills of the same size and color. Hence, perform this task when you are alone, calm, and focused. If someone interrupts you, calmly let them know that you are packing the pills and they can come later. 

4. Correct dosage is important!

This one is very obvious, but I had to put it out there. Refer to the doctor’s prescription paper to learn about the correct dodge for each of the pills you are about to pack inside the pill box. Generally, the doctor mentioned the daily dosage adjacent to the name of the medicine. Sometimes the dosage changes with time, hence you should set a reminder so you know when to add or reduce pills. 

5. Keep an eye on the expiry date

Every medicine strip has its expiration date printed on it — somewhere on the edges of the strip. Do not pack the pills if the expiry date is unreadable or not present on the label. Before you pack the pill, simply look at the expiry date and be aware of the shelf life of a particular medicine.

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