A personal story:
My mother, a sprightly 74 year old was diagnosed with Parkinsonism and Lewy Body dementia in 2000. Initially she managed very well with a weekly filled dosset box, taking her pills four times per day.
As with many chronic and degenerative illnesses there are many tablets to take, and there can be problems if they are either not taken or taken late. As time passed she became increasingly anxious and confused about when to take her next pills. She was confused about the time of day, and which section of the dosset box she should open next.
She began to telephone at all hours of the day and night to ask if it was time to take her next pills. Even though a care agency calls on her three times a day, they were not always able to be there at the exact time that the pills were due to be taken, which caused a number of panic attacks as she waited for them to arrive.
I began to worry about her overdosing. I found that pills were going missing from the dosset box. Several times she took her pills, had a nap, and woke up after an hour or so later and thought it was the next day, and so took the next morning's dose. I could see that if this continued she would have to go into care or would end up in hospital.
Everyone began to get very stressed. I have a full time job and cannot be with her four times a day, but I could not accept that just because her medication could not be delivered on time she would have to move into a care home.
Although Mum became confused about her pills I felt that she was still able, with a little help, to live in her own home. I needed a pill dispenser which I could fill, and lock and which would automatically dispense the correct dosage on time. I spoke to everyone I thought could help but to no avail. It took me a long time, but eventually I found a supplier who could provide exactly what I was looking for.
When Mum first started to use it I was not sure that she would recognise the alarm or know that she had to tilt the dispenser over to take the pills. It has never been a problem - she leaves it in the hall during the day, and takes it to the bedroom when she goes to bed. She has a bag to carry it in when she goes out to day-care. The staff at day care were delighted with the dispenser as many times she had dropped her dosset box and pills had spilt over the floor. I keep a spare internal cassette tray at my home and fill it up ready to replace her current tray once a week. Having all the pills at my home means that I can know when to order repeat prescriptions.
For the time being Mum is still in her own home and maintaining independence. Although there are other problems associated with old age, Parkinsonism and dementia, pills are no longer an issue. The automatic pill dispenser has transformed both Mum's and my life over the last 4 years.
Mum is no longer able to use the dispenser herself as she needs 24 hour care.
May 30th 2007
Mum died, the day before her 81st birthday.
Caroline Milne, Director.
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