The Hidden Hazards of Pill Organizers

Color-coded pill organizer for medication management

Pill organizers are helpful to many seniors, but some negative effects have been noted.

On average, older adults take as many as 15-18 different prescriptions each and every day, so it’s no surprise that so many seniors wind up missing doses or taking incorrect doses of their meds. And there are dangerous health concerns that can come from these medication errors. One solution is for seniors to use a pill organizer: such a simple idea to just place the right medications into the right little boxes each day. Problem solved, right?

Surprisingly, however, medication management research is revealing a much different scenario. Older adults who had been taking their medications directly from the original packaging who then switched to utilizing a pill organizer were overwhelmed with health problems, including falls, hypoglycemia, and in one case, someone was unable to get out of the bathtub until rescued a full 12 hours later.

This study involved 29 participants over age 75 who had not used pill organizers and were, inadvertently, not taking their medications as directed by their physicians. For eight weeks, half of the seniors in the study started using a pill organizer, while the other half continued taking their meds as they always had.

The health concerns, astoundingly, were discovered only in seniors who had begun to use pill organizers. The thought behind these results points to the idea that the seniors had been missing doses or taking their meds incorrectly before they began using a pill organizer, and were then encountering negative effects from taking the appropriate doses of their medications.

Dr. Debi Bhattacharya, lead researcher in the study, highlights the need for seniors who are planning to switch to a pill organizer to first talk with their physician or pharmacist to confirm dosage amounts. And she further explains, “People who are already using a pill organizer without any ill effects should not stop using it as they do seem to help some patients take their medication as prescribed. It’s the switching stage which appears to be the danger.”

Harmony Home Health & Hospice, a top provider of in home hospice care in Salt Lake City and the surrounding areas, offers dependable medication management services for seniors as part of our home health care services, with reminders to take medications exactly when and how they’re prescribed, to ensure they remain as healthy and safe as possible. Contact us at 1-877-I-NEED-CARE (1-877-463-3322) to learn more and to find out if our services are available in your area.