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8 Best Automatic Pill Dispensers For Elderly (Hassle-Free Medication Management)

8 Best Automatic Pill Dispensers For Elderly (Hassle-Free Medication Management)

Discover the best automatic pill dispensers for seniors, simplifying medication management and ensuring safety. Compare top models, features, and make an informed choice.
Best Automatic Pill Dispensers For Elderly
Best Automatic Pill Dispensers For Elderly
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Summary & Highlights

An automatic pill dispenser is an electronic device designed to help individuals manage their medication by dispensing the correct dosages at specific times. This innovative solution addresses various concerns and questions individuals or caregivers may have when considering a medication management system.

  • Understanding Automatic Pill Dispensers: These devices store, organize, and dispense medications at pre-set times, making them ideal for individuals with complex medication regimens or cognitive impairments.
  • Benefits and Disadvantages: Automatic pill dispensers offer numerous advantages, such as ease of medicine retrieval, time-saving, prevention of medication errors, reminders, and increased independence. However, they may not completely eliminate all medication management errors.
  • Purchasing Considerations: When buying an automatic pill dispenser, it’s important to consider factors like pill capacity, alarm types, power options, lockability, and portability to find the best option that meets your needs.

Based on my tests and research, I recommend the Hero Health Smart Pill Dispenser. This automatic pill dispenser holds up to 90 days’ worth of medicine for ten different medications, has visible and audible alarms and caregiver notifications, and even offers a pharmacy refill service.

It is controlled via a smartphone app, allowing remote management, and has an aesthetically pleasing design. The Hero Smart Dispenser brings peace of mind to older adults and their caregivers, making it an excellent choice for an automatic pill dispenser.

Reviews of the Best Pill Dispensers

Here are my reviews and personal options for some of the best automatic pill dispensers for seniors. I hope you find this section useful for narrowing down your choices.

Hero Health Smart Pill DispenserPin

Hero Health Smart Pill Dispenser

Up to 90 days of medicine
Visible and audible alarms
Caregiver notifications
Pharmacy refill service

Pros:

  • Holds up to 90 days of medicine
  • Can schedule up to 10 different daily doses and medications
  • Has both visible and audible alarms
  • This dispenser can automatically order refills when needed
  • Pay with HSA or FSA money (and possibly insurance, based on your plan)

Cons:

  • No back-up battery power.
  • Can’t handle gummies, liquids, or halved/quartered pills
  • Setup requires a smartphone and app

The Hero Health Smart Pill Dispenser is a fully automatic pill dispensing solution that takes the hassle, forgetting, worry, and stress from medication management.

For starters, it holds 90 days’ worth of up to 10 medications at a time. So you don’t have to worry about who will fill it up each week. This is great for long-distance caregivers who help their elderly loved ones with medicines. You can even use Hero Health’s pharmacy service to get automatic refills when it’s time.

The Hero medication dispenser is controlled via a smartphone app, so you can manage it remotely. With the app, you can set the dispensing schedule, check historical data, and even get notifications when a dosage is missed.

The dispenser has a great design and resembles a high-end coffee maker or small appliance. It sounds an alarm letting the person you care for know it is time to take their medication. They then tap the button on the front, dispensing the pills into a med cup at the bottom.

I highly recommend the Hero Smart Dispenser because of the peace of mind it can bring older adults and their caregivers and loved ones. Yes, it does require an internet connection and is a subscription-based service. But Hero Health offers a 90-day money-back guarantee if you are unsatisfied.


MedReady 1700 Medication Dispenser, Basic (1700)Pin

MedReady 1700 Medication Pill Dispenser

from $149.00
Tamper-proof, locking lid
Loud alarm
Optional flashing light
28 compartments

Pros:

  •  Just enough features without being too complicated
  •  Decent pill capacity to meet the needs of most users
  •  Battery backup system in case of a power outage
  •  Lockable lid
  •  Loud enough for those that are hard of hearing

Cons:

  •  Cannot retake a missed dose
  •  A visual alarm is available but it costs $10 extra.

The MedReady 1700 is a more basic automatic pill dispenser for older adults looking to test the idea of using a medication management device. It has 28 compartments capable of holding up to 9 pills each.

It has an 85-decibel alarm that sounds when it is time for the next dose. It alerts/dispenses up to 4 times a day. It also has a tamper-proof lockable lid and battery backup in case of a power shortage.

The MedReady 1700 is a great tool, especially for caregivers, since it is accessible and simple. However, it has its drawbacks. The biggest one is that it has an audible alarm system instead of a visual one, which might not be so helpful for those with hearing issues.

However, it is now available in a flashing light model too. Just select the 1700 FL under the model drop-down. This model has a dual alarm system; one visual (flashing light) and the other audio. You can use one, both, or none. You don’t have access to missed doses to help you avoid overdosing.

MedReady Medication Dispenser Informational Video

The Original Monthly Medication Organizer with Easy Set Reminder Clock by MedCenterPin

Medcenter Monthly Pill Organizer

from $56.95
Manages monthly medication
Multiple doses daily
Color-coded distribution
Optional reminder alarm

Pros:

  • 31 pillboxes with four compartments each
  • Easy color-coded system to mark days that are done
  • Large screen display
  • A loud alarm that can be set to go off up to 4 times daily

Cons:

  •  Considering that it’s a monthly organizer, expect it to take up a lot of counter space
  •  Time-consuming to load all of the pills inside the 124 individual compartments

The MedCenter monthly pill organizer can hold up to 60 pills depending on their size. It uses a color-coding system to help caregivers keep up with the daily medications and when the last medication for the day has been given.

The alarm system can be programmed for up to 4 medication reminders per day. It is battery-powered and uses AA batteries.

The pill compartments have dates inscribed, and the date on the compartment can be easily matched to that on your alarm and the clock on your display. That ensures that you are always taking the proper dose.

The pill organizer accompanying the alarm is lightweight plastic, thus making it easy for caregivers to clean and transport. Plus, the alarm comes with large buttons and a large display, allowing easy access even for those with eyesight problems.

The alarm has a loud alert and can be set to sound up to 4 times per day, making it unlikely for it not to be heard. The pill organizer alerts caregivers when the right time to take medication and when the next dose will be.

Setting the alert alarm is easy, so caregivers won’t have any problem reminding their loved ones that it is time to take their medication. However, the four alarm limit may not be enough for some people.

This video, while a bit commercial, shows how this system works:

Monthly Pill Organizer & Reminder - MedCenter System Commercial

Med-E-Lert Medication Dispenser with Automatic Lock Box 28 Sealed Pill Compartments (Clear Lid)Pin

MED-E-LERT Automatic Pill Dispenser With Clear Top

from $54.98
28 compartments
Reminder with alarm
Up to 6 doses per day
Battery-powered

Pros:

  • Visual and audible alerts
  • Classic but highly effective rotating system
  • Stores hundreds of pills at one go, which makes it easier to load
  • Dosage settings are stored even if the battery runs out
  • It has in-built power-saving features with the display turning off after 10 minutes, thus saving power

Cons:

  • Battery replacement can be difficult for people with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia
  • The cover can be pried open

The MED-E-LERT Automatic Pill Dispenser has 28 compartments that allow loading up to 18 aspirin-sized pills each. It can be programmed to dispense a maximum of 6 doses a day.

Depending on your dosage, you may not have to reload until after one month. It is powered by AA batteries and has a manual key to prevent inadvertent opening.

The dispenser has clearly labeled compartments, a secure lid, and a digital clock face in the middle. The lid has been designed to be tamper-proof to ensure that seniors never overdose, get confused, or change the order of the drugs.

It provides visual and audible alerts when it is time to take medication, thus increasing the chance of the user noticing the dispenser.

Here is the manufacturer’s instructional video for more info:

MedELert Automatic Pill Dispenser - How to Set Up?

Electronic Pill Box Dispenser - MedQPin

MedQ Daily Pill Box with Flashing Light

from $79.95
14 compartments
Graduated alarm
Portable
Weekly or biweekly

Pros:

  • Alarm gradually increases in volume to make sure it is heard.
  • Easily portable for traveling seniors.
  • Dual alarm system uses flashing lights and loud beeps.
  • Only needs filled weekly or bi-weekly.
  • Removable compartments can be carried with you instead of entire box.

Cons:

  • Limited capacity compared to other models.
  • No notification for missed doses.

The MedQ Daily Pill Box with Flashing Light has 14 pill box containers that can hold a maximum of 10 pills each.

It can be set for either a once-a-day or twice-a-day reminder. If you set the once-a-day reminder, it will be filled for a 2-week cycle. If you choose the twice-a-day reminders, it will be filled for a 1-week cycle.

The MedQ daily medication reminder alarm system starts softly and gradually increases in volume to avoid agitating the user.

It also offers anti-skid bottom to ensure that it stays firmly in place, easy-to-open pill compartments, as well as a low battery indicator to help you and/or your caregiver keep the unit in proper working condition. The alarm light flashes, too, for additional notification.

Because of its smaller size, it is highly portable either at home or on short trips. You can even remove the pill reminder compartments for easier cleaning or carrying of your scheduled pills instead of the entire pill box.

The device is simple since you only fill it once or every other week, depending on the medication schedule. But this also means the overall storage capacity is limited if you take multiple medications multiple times per day.

See the Med-Q in action in the following video:

MED-Q Smart Pill Box

e-Pill MedTime - Advanced Locked Automatic Pill DispenserPin

e-Pill MedTime XL Advanced Automatic Pill Dispenser

from $389.95
28 compartments
Up to 28 doses per day
Alarm sounds for 1 hour
Locking lid

Pros:

  •  Straightforward setup
  •  Automated dispensing of even complex medication schedules
  •  It is easy to use
  •  It has several test functions for determining whether it is working properly.
  •  Several different alarm sounds are available.

Cons:

  •  The locked dispenser and/or the alarm may agitate a person with dementia
  •  Dispensing might be automatic, but there’s no guarantee that the medication will be taken

The e-Pill MedTime XL Advanced Automatic Pill Dispenser provides an alert and dispenses medication up to 28 times before reloading. It has 28 compartments capable of holding 15 aspirin-sized pills each. It can be programmed for up to 28 alarms a day.

The e-Pill MedTime XL Advanced Dispenser flashes a light and rings an alarm until it is turned upside down to pour the pills into the hand. It only turns off after 1 hour if it isn’t turned off. It also has a lock to prevent accidental overdosing. The setup procedure is relatively straightforward.

Learn more about the Medtime XL in this video from the manufacturer:

e-pill Automatic Pill Dispenser MD1 : How To Use Your Med-Time

What Are Automatic Pill Dispensers?

Automatic medication dispensers are automated electronic devices that dispense pills automatically at set times throughout the day. The devices have several compartments and can store anywhere from one week’s supply of pills to a few months’ supply of different pills.

They are ideally suited for those suffering from long-term health conditions or those with cognitive impairments, such as those with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, that are required to take medication regularly but may struggle to remember when they should take it.

Another common use is for seniors who have a complicated medication regimen and want to ensure they get it right.

How Does An Automatic Pill Dispenser Work?

Automatic medication dispensers have compartments filled, usually by caregivers, with the correct dosages of medications given at once. Often, the storage system is behind a locking mechanism to prevent tampering.

Next, the devices are programmed to give reminders at certain times of the day when the medications are due. These machines then dispense the meds – and only the needed ones – at the touch of a button or by opening an access door. Which method depends on the organizer you choose.

What Are the Benefits of an Automatic Medication Dispenser?

Automatic medication dispensers play a critical role in promoting medication management by helping organize medication in advance and dispensing it at the prescribed times.

Here are other benefits:

Ease of Medicine Retrieval

Automatic pill dispensers readily dispense medications at prescribed times. You don’t have to struggle with a bottle cap to reach the medicine. Most dispensers have a mechanism that rotates the tray, thus releasing the medication. All you need to do is pick it up and swallow.

Saves Time

Labels on pill bottles sometimes come in small print that can be difficult to read, especially if you have vision problems. Opening them is also time-consuming. If you have an automatic dispenser, you load the pills once and only reload after a long period. This saves time and gets rid of frustration.

Prevents Medication Errors

If you are an elderly person, it can be easy to skip doses or take the wrong medication. However, with an automatic medication dispenser, you never have to worry about taking the right medication in the right dosage since it is pre-sorted.

senior man confused by a handful of pills who needs an automatic pill dispenserPin

Reminder to Take Medication

Mild cognitive decline is an unfortunate but common part of aging. With these devices, you won’t need to rely on your memory since it will remind you exactly when to take the medication. This greatly improves your medication adherence and safety too!

Freedom and Independence

Having an electronic pill dispenser helps reduce the workload of your caregivers and gives them peace of mind. It also frees you from relying on another person to give you your medicine several times daily. It can help you live a more independent life.

Are There Any Disadvantages to Using an Electronic Pill Dispenser?

A medication dispenser is an invaluable tool for preventing medication mismanagement, but it does not prevent all drug dispensing and medication adherence errors, which means that it isn’t the magic bullet for ending all adverse drug administration errors.

Buying Guide: What to Look for When Buying a Pill Dispenser

Here are some of the things you should look for when buying a medication dispenser:

Pill Capacity

The dispenser’s capacity is one of the top considerations. Do you need to take a pill daily, every week, or do you have to take several pills throughout the day?

If you take multiple doses throughout the day, choosing a dispenser with sufficient compartments for storing all your medication can be a good idea.

Alarm

The alarm on the medication dispenser is another important consideration when purchasing.

Some dispensers have the option of both visual and audible alerts, while others have just one type of alarm. The alarm on your chosen device should be loud enough and recognizable so the user can easily hear it.

Power

Pill dispensers can be either battery-powered, electrically powered, or they may use a combination.

It is generally preferable to have one powered by two power sources compared to one solely electrically powered since the device can run off batteries in case of a power outage and will still function properly.

You should also consider if the device requires a phone line or not. If it needs to be connected to a phone line, it might limit your placement choices.

Lockability

Pill dispensers sometimes feature a locking mechanism whereby access to the dispenser is restricted outside the prescribed times.

Lockability is important since it increases user safety by preventing them from taking the wrong medication or even overdosing. A lockable device is recommended for those that may get confused easily, such as those with cognitive impairments.

Portability

A portable battery-operated model is ideal for those requiring a medication dispenser that they can easily carry when traveling.

Such pill dispensers are usually lightweight and small enough to fit in a bag and can allow you to take vital medication even when you are not at home. If you are looking for a dispenser to use at home, you should opt for a larger model that will almost always have more features.

elderly man with confused look on face while talking pills Pin

Frequently Asked Questions/FAQs:

How can I remember to take my medication?

You can have a caregiver or a loved one remind you to take your medicine. You can also keep it visible. You can always set an alarm to remind you when to take the medicine.

Alternatively, you can invest in a pill dispenser that has an alarm to remind you when you need to take your medication and keeps it visible.

Do automated dispensing machines improve patient safety?

Automated dispensing machines can enhance the efficiency of medication distribution and increase patient safety by providing a good balance of accessibility, security, as well as inventory control.

Does Medicare pay for pill dispensers?

Medicare does not pay for electronic pill dispensers by any name. Medicaid, however, may pay for the cost in some states, but this is something you have to check in your state’s regulations.

What is the best automatic pill dispenser for seniors?

The best pill dispensers have a dual alarm system (visual and audible), a dual power system (mains and battery), dispenses medications at least 4 times a day, and has a large enough storage capacity.

Summary and Final Recommendations

It’s no secret that seniors have the highest medicine consumption rates in the United States. As we age, our need for medications seems to grow.

However, overdosing and missed doses are real issues affecting this demographic. And, unfortunately, the consequences of drug non-compliance often lead to hospitalizations, escalating health costs, aggravation of diseases, and sometimes even death.

The most common reason for this problem is confusion due to the sheer number of medications that have to be managed combined with cognitive decline.

But, there is a solution to this problem.

Automatic pill dispensers can help you or a loved one take the correct doses of the right medications at the right time and help prevent these problems.

Pill dispensers play an indispensable role in your life by making sure that you take the right medication, in the right dose, and at the right time. The best pill dispenser is one that’s reasonably priced, has a decent capacity, has a dual alarm system, a dual power system, and dispenses medication at least 4 times a day.

Sources:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5296451/
  2. https://www.singlecare.com/blog/medication-management-for-seniors/
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Scott Grant, CSA®, SHSS®

Scott Grant, CSA®, SHSS®

With over 20 years of experience and certifications as a Certified Senior Advisor (CSA)® and Senior Home Safety Specialist (SHSS)®, Scott Grant provides reliable recommendations to help seniors maintain independence through informed product and service choices for safe, comfortable living.

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2 thoughts on “8 Best Automatic Pill Dispensers For Elderly (Hassle-Free Medication Management)”

  1. great article.. You need to mention the med-q. that is what we got for our Dad

    • Scott Grant, ATP, CRTS®

      Hey Lee – thanks for bringing the Med-Q to my attention. What about it do you like best?

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