Many people have health conditions that mean they need to take a lot of medicine, often on a daily basis. Keeping track of which pills you need and in what dose may take some organisation, so it's worth thinking about how best to do it.
This can be a particular challenge for those of advanced years, whose memory may not be as sharp as it once was.
While your doctor or another medical professional should be able to advise you, there are also a handful of things you can do to make it easier. Here we'll run down some of the best and give you a few details on how Essential Aids may be able to help.
These simple plastic devices are a cost-effective way of organising your medicine schedule.
They come with mini compartments within the main box which help you divide the pills into different days, or even times of the day.
It is important to note that while most medication can be stored in the same compartment as others for a brief period, you should discuss this with your doctor beforehand.
If you don't want to use a purpose built pill dispenser box, you could use coloured bottles or label some other home-made boxes to store your pills.
Regardless of the method, it's important that you take your time to put the correct pills in the right compartments. You many want someone to help you double check this process.
Essential Aids has a whole section of the website devoted to pill boxes called 'Medicine Dispensers'.
Some are as described above, with compartments for different time-frames, while others have additional features like timers and alarms which notify someone when medicine is due.
The section also contains pill crushers, splitters and eye droppers.
Like many of the most popular pill storage containers, the '7-Day Extra Large Pill Box' has a compartment for each day. The large internal boxes allow for a selection of tablets to be stored. It features flip-open lids which are very easy to use and click shut after use.
The extra size is not just helpful for capacity; it is also great if you have weak eyesight. The oversized box is also easier to handle for people with reduced manual dexterity or a hand tremor.
If you're looking for a larger box with a larger number of compartments for more frequent tablet doses, the 'Weekly Multi-dose Pill Box' is clear and easy to use.
It can be used to organise weekly/daily medication required at up to four times per day. Alternatively, you can use it to organise monthly medication which is consumed once a day.
The labelling for each compartment is morning, noon, evening and night is printed normally and in Braille for those with weak eyesight. This kind of labelling is common to a number of pill boxes at Essential Aids.
A simple electronic tablet box with a reminder function is something which many people find helpful.
For those with memory loss, dementia or Alzheimer's, it sounds two kinds of alarm at set periods - and audible alert and a visual flashing light.
The pocket-sized box has a cord to allow the device to be hung around the user's neck.
Some pill boxes have a vibration alarm feature. The 'Vibration 5 Alarm Reminder Pill Box' at Essential Aids has a unique, compact shape which has five separate compartments for medication.
This clever device has a different alarm for each compartment. Each one has an option for an audible or vibrating alarm. These features make this particular box ideal for people with impaired eyesight or hearing.
It has an attractive blue and white exterior and a digital time display.
At the advanced end of the scale in terms of functionality, is the 'Automatic Pill Dispenser'. It is easily programmable to automatically dispense up to 28 pills a day.
At the programmed times it sounds an alarm and the correct dosage shows through the lid of the specific tablet box concerned. The alarm continues to go off until the pills are actually released.
It runs using AA batteries which last up to 12 months with everyday use. The unit has an extra alarm which sounds when the batteries are running low.
It is suitable for people with fairly extensive medicine schedules.
As well as using purpose-made boxes for keeping track of your medication, there are other things you can do to stay organised.
You might for example, keep a written schedule. It's usually best to get into a pattern of behaviour with your tables and to take them at the same time and if possible the same place every day, usually at home.
You might for example get into the routine of taking them after certain meals or when brushing your teeth first thing in the morning and/or last thing at night.
It is also advisable to fix a day of the week when you fill the pill organiser with tablets for the upcoming week. The more the various processes become ingrained in routine, the less the likelihood of something being forgotten.
Storing medicine in a certain place is also a good idea. An easy to remember cupboard or draw makes the most sense, where it won't get overlooked.
Alarms are also useful to keep track of your schedule. If you use a mobile phone, there are apps available which allow you to set a time schedule and remind you when to take you tablets.
You can either set conventional alarms or even use apps that send you emails at pre-set times as reminders.
If you prefer more 'analogue' reminders, the good old fashioned wall-chart might be the way to go. Displaying it in a prominent highly-visible position should prevent you forgetting to look at it.
You can either download and print one or just make your own. Using colour codes for different days, times or medications is a relatively easy way of keeping things organised.
You can mark it with details not just about the times for consumption, but also doses and any relevant specifics like whether a particular tablet needs to be taken with food.
Remember, if you are creating a written chart, it's a good idea to leave space to accommodate any future changes in prescription or doses.
As well as organiser boxes, Essential Aids also supplies small plastic devices which help break tablets down to manageable sizes. This makes them easier to swallow.
In years gone by, it was common for people to crush tablets down using a rolling pin or some other kitchen implement. This would inevitably lead to bits of tablets going astray.
Now there are small pieces of purpose-build equipment which do the same job, but more easily and efficiently.
The popular 'Pill Splitter' for example is a small plastic box into which a tablet is placed. The lid of the box is then levered downwards and a small metal safety blade splits the pill in two.
The Pill Splitter is designed in such a way as to catch the two parts of the tablet after it has been cut.
It can cut pills of up to half an inch in diameter and is suitable for coated and non-coated tablets. It can be washed in the dishwasher if it needs cleaning.
Another option is the 'Screw-action Pill Crusher', which as the name suggests lets you crush down tablets into small pieces. Some people who find difficulty in swallowing regular sized tablets choose to crush them down into fine pieces and either put them in drinks or food.
The screw action means less strength is required to use the device, so it is ideal for people with weakened hands or fingers.
As mentioned above, if the person is comfortable using a mobile phone, there are numerous apps available which can help schedule medication.
These clearly do not come with the inherent advantage of purpose built physical pill boxes, but they may be a good way to stay organised and stick to a medication schedule.
While there are many elderly people who are not comfortable with mobile phones and apps, those who are may find this an easy method. As with any battery powered device, it's important to make sure it has adequate charge.
If you think you might have difficulty remembering your tablet schedule, it's always best to discuss it with your GP or another medical professional who understands your personal circumstances.
They will be able to offer you advice on the type of equipment which might be of assistance.