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Let’s Simplify Pill Management

Whether you are a caregiver to an older adult or a mom managing a family who values wellness, you might find that administering pills can become almost a full-time job. But here are seven steps to ease your pill pain.

I want to share a system that can simplify pill management and increase consistency in everyone’s taking meds and supplements.

The secret is the pillbox!

What You Need

 Here are some tools you might need for this process.

  • Pillboxes with morning, noon, evening, and bedtime compartments are available here.

  • Label maker (optional)

  • Sharpie

  • A medium to large plastic bin or container – these Multi-Purpose bins work wonders. Also, here’s my favorite plastic box ever.

Follow These Steps

  1. Place all prescribed and OTC meds and supplements that household members regularly take in the plastic bin or tote. The amount and size of pill bottles on hand determine the size of your container or box. This step only happens once because this bin will become the forever home of ingestible medicines and supplements at home. You may benefit from a second plastic container for all OTC medicines NOT regularly taken, like cough syrup, painkillers, allergy medicine, etc.

  2. Write the name of each person (or initial) who takes each medication on the bottles’ lids. Include the intake frequency of that product. 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 for easy identification at a glance.

  3. Assign each person taking medications or supplements regularly a pillbox and label both sides of each pillbox with their name.

  4. Line all pillboxes on your counter or table and open their lids.

  5. Work by person – Select all bottles with someone’s name and place all meds/supplements they need in their pillbox, according to timing and dosage.

  6. Work by-product – If you’d instead work with one product at a time, distribute a medication or supplement into the pillbox of each person taking that product.

  7. Repeat the process for each person or per product bottle (depending on your preferred method).

  8. Close all pillbox lids when each box is complete with all medications and supplements for that individual.

**Devote 30 minutes to this task every week. Make it a commitment and calendar this activity!

Where and Why

Ingestible medicines and supplements are best kept in the kitchen, not the bathroom. The humidity in the bathroom might affect the product’s integrity.

Keeping medication and supplements in the kitchen makes sense because we ingest these, usually with water or another beverage. The pantry or a cabinet in the kitchen are optimal spaces for these pillboxes and the bin with the medication bottles.

On the other hand, things we apply to our skin, hair, teeth, or nails go in the bathroom. This group includes rubbing alcohol, H2O2, antibiotic creams, muscle pain patches, cotton, gauze, bandages, etc.

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 repeatedly, several times per day. It makes sense to streamline this process.

When medicines and supplements are in a single place, finding what we need at any moment is easier.

A central location for meds and supplements also facilitates knowing what needs reordering and when.

It also eliminates having multiple open bottles of the same product.

This process has an inherent accountability built in; it’s easy to notice when someone forgets their meds and when it happens just by looking at the pillbox. Thus, this system also increases the consistency in taking medications.

Make It Happen

These five steps described above will make it easier for everyone to take their meds and supplements consistently.

However, to make the system work:

  • Devote 30 minutes to this task every week.

  • 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, which takes up a lot of space and leads to expired medication around the home.