Pill organisers are used to arrange and store medication, which helps you to make sure that you are taking the right medication and dose at the right time.
Types of pill organiser
Pill organisers – these often have separate compartments for several doses per day. This can range from 7 to 28 compartments. As people with Parkinson’s typically take their medication 4 times a day, the larger 28-compartment devices can cover a full week. If you need more compartments, you can use 2 pill organisers.
Pill organisers come in different shapes. The more traditional, square box usually has the days of the week horizontally and doses per day vertically. Newer, round boxes are designed to rotate on a disc with compartments on the outer edge.
Dosette boxes – these organise medication by the day of the week and time of day. They can be empty boxes that you refill weekly or may come pre-filled by your pharmacist. These dosette-style blister packs are already organised into times and daily doses, according to your prescription.
Dosette boxes usually have 21 or 28 separate compartments so, depending on the number of times a day you take medication, these may cover 1 week per box. Some people find having 2 dosette boxes allows for easy exchange and refills at the pharmacy.
Automatic pill dispensers – these allow you to set the organiser to ‘unlock’ 1 compartment at a time. This makes sure you are aware when a dose is due and makes it easy to take the right amount of medication.
Travel-size pill timers – these portable devices can hold a small number of medication doses (usually enough for a day) and have a small alarm to remind you when to take your medication. They can be useful to carry what you need when you are out and about.
Medication alerts – these will tell you when to take your medication through sounds, vibrations, flashing lights or a combination of these. Some advanced devices can send a text message to an emergency contact number if you don't take a dose within a specified timeframe.
Many people find that timers on mobile phones or digital watches are more useful than pill timers or pill organisers. Some people prefer vibrating timers, rather than beeping ones, because they draw less attention in public.
Choosing a pill organiser
If you have difficulty using your hands or problems with fine finger movements, you might prefer to choose a design that has larger buttons and compartments. Simpler pill organisers may also be better if you have difficulty with your memory and thinking.
Look for alarms that are easy to set and that reset automatically in preparation for the next dose. Many have ‘pre-set’ alarms that repeat daily, which may or may not be suitable, depending on how regularly you take your medication.
A pill ejector is used to push a pill out of its packaging. It's a small plastic device that lets you apply more pressure to the packaging than you could with your hands.
Try not to break pills when using a blister pack pill ejector. It’s also useful to make sure there are no stickers or labels on the back of the blister packs, which will make it more difficult to push the pills through.
Pill cutters can be used to split pills into smaller sections, which make them easier to swallow. These are usually combined with a small plastic container that allows you to place a pill in a slot and cut it cleanly. The lid contains a razor sharp blade that comes down to cut the pill in half, so it’s important to use the cutter correctly and safely.
Pill cutters do work very well and can be more precise than trying to snap pills. However, there are several issues to be aware of:
- Controlled release or modified release tablets (eg Sinemet CR, Ropinirole XL, Pramipexole PR) should not be broken or cut as this will interfere with the controlled release mechanism.
- Madopar capsules should not be split – if splitting is needed, it would be better to have dispersible Madopar tablets.
- Entacapone or Stalevo can be split to enable swallowing but the ‘raw’ edges taste unpleasant.
Last updated May 2017. We review all our information within 3 years. If you'd like to find out more about how we put our information together, including references and the sources of evidence we use, please contact us at [email protected].