Let’s Simplify Pill Management

Whether you are a caregiver to an elderly person, a parent of a child with health issues, an individual that takes multiple vitamins and supplements to stay healthy, or a mother managing a household full of individuals with diverse conditions, you might find that administering pills can become almost a full-time job. You can consider the job successful if half the time the pills are not forgotten.

I’d like to share what can simplify your process and increase consistency in the taking of meds and supplements for everyone in the home.  The secret is the pillbox!

What You Need

 Here are some tools you might need for this process.

  • Pillboxes with AM, Noon, PM, and Bedtime options (find them at your favorite pharmacy or Amazon). This is a fantastic option!
  • Label maker (optional)
  • Sharpie
  • Medium to large plastic bin or container (these Multi-Purpose bins work wonders, as well as my favorite plastic box ever created).

Devote 30 minutes to this task on a weekly basis. Make it a commitment and calendar this activity!

The Steps

  1. Place all prescribed and OTC meds and supplements that household members regularly take in the plastic bin or tote. The container size will be determined by the amount and size of the bottles of meds on hand. This step is only followed the first time because this bin will be the new forever home of all ingestible medicines in the home. Use a second plastic tote or bin for all OTC medicines that are NOT taken regularly (like cough syrup, pain killers, allergy medicine, etc.)
  2. With the label maker or sharpie, write each person’s name or initial, and med intake frequency on each bottle lid. For example, “M 1-am/2-pm” indicates that person “M” takes one of those pills in the morning and two in the evening. Repeat this process with all bottles so they are easy to identify by looking at them from the top inside the bin.
  3. With the label maker or sharpie, label each side of each pillbox with the name of the person taking the meds/supplements from that box. Assign a pillbox to each person taking any medicine and/or supplement on a regular basis.
  4. Line all pillboxes on your counter or table and open their lids
  5. Select all bottles pertaining to one person and place in their pillbox all medication and supplements that person takes, according to the timing and dosage needed. Alternatively, you might prefer to work with one product at a time. In this case, distribute that medication into the pillboxes of everyone that takes that product.
  6. Repeat the process for each person (if working by the person) or for each med bottle (if working by the product).
  7. Close pill box lids when all medication is complete on each box.

Where and Why

Ingestible medicines and supplements are best kept in the kitchen, not in the bathroom. The humidity of the bathroom affects their power. It also makes sense to keep medication and supplements in the kitchen because we ingest these usually with water or another beverage. The optimal place for pillboxes once prepared and the bin with all product bottles is a section in the pantry or a cabinet in the kitchen.

On the other hand, things we apply to our skin, hair, teeth, or nails go in the bathroom. Included in this group are things like rubbing alcohol, H2O2, antibiotic creams, muscle pain patches, cotton, gauze, bandages, and the like.

It is simpler to take medications and supplements when we do not need to sort the product, open several bottles, and make the same decisions over and over, several times per day. It makes sense to streamline this process.

When medicines and supplements are in one single place in the home, it is easier to find what we need at any given moment. It also facilitates knowing what should be reordered, and when.  Also, it makes it less probable to have several bottles of the same product open at once, with some of those bottles half empty.

The best thing about this process is its inherent accountability – we can easily see who did not take their supplements or medicines and when just by looking at the pillbox. Thus, this system also increases the consistency with which medications are taken.

Make It Happen

Hopefully, these five steps described above will make it easier for everyone to consistently take their meds and supplements. But to make it happen:

  • Devote 30 minutes to this task on a weekly basis
  • Place this activity on the calendar as a recurrent, weekly activity
  • Make it a commitment


Pro-Tip: Consolidate medicine when it arrives at your home. Usually, medication bottles come half empty. There is no reason to have several half-empty bottles of the same product. This includes medication already in use. Oftentimes we have several open bottles of the same product. This takes a lot of space but also leads to expired medication around the home.