There are many models, varying in complexity and price—from around $10 to $100 or more. Look for one that lets you set multiple alarms, has big enough compartments to hold all your meds, and (if this is helpful to you) has a light that blinks until you open up the pill compartment. People with arthritis or other hand or finger dexterity problems might find these challenging to use.
Sold under brand names including TimerCap ($20) and iRemember ($50), these are special bottles or caps (designed to fit on a standard medication bottle) with flashing lights, chimes, ringtones, or other features to remind you to take the medication—or alert you if you reopen the bottle after having already taken the med. Some can send text and voice reminders to your smartphone. In a small study in 2019, which involved 40 people starting a drug for multiple myeloma, a smart pill bottle improved medication adherence compared to a control bottle with no smart features.
Hundreds of drug-reminder apps are available for iPhone or Android devices, many of them free. Features include text and email reminders, missed dose alerts, and messages when it’s time for a refill. Some let you add other users, such as a spouse or caregiver. In a 2016 paper in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, which evaluated more than 270 medication-adherence apps, Medisafe and CareZone were rated among the best.
One such device, Reminder Rosie ($80 to $100), allows you to set as many as 25 different reminders in your own voice or a caregiver’s (for instance, “Dad, take three blue pills and one white pill now”). The large digital display and lack of bells and whistles may appeal to people who favor lower-tech devices. Other talking alarm clocks are available, though with fewer reminder options (and not all allow you to record your own voice).
Watches geared specifically toward medication adherence, such as Cadex ($140), can be programmed for up to 12 different daily alarms, with an optional digital message that scrolls across the watch face. The VA recommends it for veterans who may have trouble remembering to take medication. There are less expensive options, too, including some that vibrate, which is useful for people with hearing problems. If you already have an Apple Watch or Fitbit, you can use its built-in reminder function.
Some pharmacies will presort your medication into single-use blister packs or pill pouches with the date and time that each should be taken (called reminder packaging). The mail-order pharmacy PillPack does this, too. If you have insurance, the cost is the same as your usual prescription copay.