Our Parents
Senior Health
Senior Living Options
Finances & Legal
Products for Seniors
About Us
A beige banner with the OurParents logo

Useful Locked Pill Dispensers for Dementia Patients

Written by Nirali Desai
 about the author
13 minute readLast updated May 31, 2022

Dementia is a condition that causes brain impairments that could result in poor judgment, limited functional skills, and memory loss. As dementia symptoms manifest in a loved one, medication adherence may become difficult for them. Medication adherence refers to a patient taking their medications as prescribed by a doctor.

Let our care assessment guide you

Our free tool provides options, advice, and next steps based on your unique situation.

Missed doses or overdosing can cause serious health problems, so it’s important for caregivers to provide medication management and medication reminders for dementia patients. Luckily, there are several locked pill dispensers for dementia patients on the market to help caregivers with medication management. These pill dispensers can safely dispense medications and provide multiple reminders to take medications.

Importance of proper medication management

As dementia progresses in a loved one, sticking to a medication routine can become difficult. In fact, about half of prescription medications are not taken as instructed, per the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Not following prescription instructions could result in accidental drug interactions, worsening conditions, drug dependency,  or hospitalizations, according to research on patient medication adherence published by Oman Medical Journal.
As seniors age, medication adherence becomes crucial for long-term health. Dementia patients could have trouble adhering to their medication regimen for a number of reasons. As a caregiver, it’s important to watch out for these signs of your loved one having trouble with medication adherence:
  • Their medication routine is too complicated.
  • They don’t fully understand the reasons for the medications.
  • They have difficulty recalling if or when they took their medications.
  • They struggle with opening difficult prescription packaging.
  • They may not be able to read the prescription labels due to impaired vision.
  • They forget to refill or pick up their prescriptions on time.
  • They have difficulty swallowing pills.
Proper medication management can help dementia patients in the following ways:
  • It can help them meet their health care goals.
  • It helps reduce side effects.
  • It helps to control chronic illnesses.
  • It can lead to a successful recovery from short-term illnesses.

Helpful features in locked pill dispensers for dementia patients

When searching for a pill dispenser for a dementia patient, be sure to consider their specific needs to find a suitable option. Be on the lookout for the following features:
  • Easy-to-use features. It’s important that a pill dispenser is easy for a dementia patient to operate. Look for a large display, clearly labeled buttons, and easy opening features.
  • Capacity. Choose a pill dispenser based on the number of medications, how often they need to be taken, and the size of the pills. Polypharmacy is common in older adults, so make sure you choose a dispenser that can store all their medications.
  • Alarms and reminders. Some pill dispenser systems come with alarm systems that make sounds, flash lights, and speak. Find an alert system that will work for your loved one.
  • Locks. Locks help prevent dementia patients from taking pills more than once and taking pills at the wrong time. Caregivers can set times for automatic dispensing to help ensure medications are taken on time.
  • Connectivity. If you’re a long-distance caregiver, look for a pill dispenser that can connect to an external device. Websites and downloadable apps can connect to a pill dispenser to help caregivers track whether medications were taken.
  • Portability. If your loved one is out and about often or travels between homes, make sure the chosen dispenser is practical to move around.

Let our care assessment guide you

Our free tool provides options, advice, and next steps based on your unique situation.

User-friendly locked pill dispensers for dementia patients

This list features safe and easy-to-use locked pill dispensers at a variety of price points that can help dementia patients take their prescribed medications as instructed.


MedMinder is an affordable medication management solution that improves medication adherence. Its simple and friendly interface eliminates digital readouts and buttons and looks like a basic seven-day pillbox. Visual and audible alerts serve as reminders. And, if that doesn’t work, alerts will be sent to your elderly loved one’s phone.
The device’s locking feature only unlocks the flashing compartment to help ensure patients take the medications for the right day. The dispenser can also be customized with personalized greetings, family pictures, and location-based weather forecasts. It is also equipped with a medical alert button that can connect patients to an emergency monitoring center.
The automatic dispenser uses cellular technology to wirelessly update the patient’s dosage activity. Medication information can be accessed and updated online by the caregiver who can choose to receive automated calls, emails, and text messages.
Storage: 28 compartments that can fit multiple medications.
Cost: MedMinder is a subscription-based pill dispenser and costs $49.99 per month.

Hero’s smart dispenser

Hero’s smart dispenser is one of the most advanced dispensers around. Weighing in at 10 pounds, this dispenser is designed to sit on a kitchen counter. When it’s time to take the medication, the system will play a sound and flash a light as an alert. Then, patients are prompted to push the only button on the device to dispense the medication. The smart dispenser also offers mobile medication reminders for dementia patients through its medication management app, which caregivers can also use to monitor their loved one’s doses remotely.
Additionally, Hero lets you pay the same copay to sync all medications to the same refill date and delivers them right to your doorstep every 30 days. Monthly pharmacist check-ins and 24/7 live support are also included in this hassle-free process.
Storage: Up to a 90-day supply of up to 10 different medications, all in their individual compartments.
Cost: There is a one-time initiation fee of $99.99, then a monthly subscription fee of $24.99.


Med-E-Lert is a locked pill dispenser that offers visual and audible medication reminders for dementia patients. The dispenser automatically rotates and offers up to six programmable alerts daily. Med-E-Lert uses motion sensor technology to turn off the alarm only after your loved one tips the device to take the pills out. The portable device is powered by AA batteries and has low-battery alerts. Additionally, the device comes with customized dosing rings to clearly show which dose is being taken.
Storage: 28 compartments that each hold up to nine pills, depending on the size.
Cost: Med-E-Lert starts at $99.95 and goes up to $129.95 for different models. The dispenser is often on sale, so be on the lookout.

MedReady MR-357FL

MedReady MR357FL is a pill dispenser that automatically unlocks at times set by caregivers. The dispenser sounds a buzzer when it’s time to take a medication. The compact device uses cellular technology to alert caregivers of medication nonadherence events via email, text messages, and automated phone calls. Caregivers can also remotely update alert times, trigger early doses, and set other device settings with a smartphone or computer.
Storage: Up to 28 doses of medication, with the ability to dispense up to four times per day.
Cost: The MR357FL costs $307, however, users can purchase cheaper models without added features. One of those features is cellular technology, which starts at $16 per month.

e-pill’s Voice Pro

The Voice Pro is a small, portable, and locked automatic pill dispenser that enables dementia patients to take the correct medications at the right time. This dispenser has Bluetooth capabilities, allowing caregivers to set up medication times and doses and review dosage records via a smartphone app.
Features include a key-locked lid, up to nine daily alarms with voice notifications, and blinking lights. Plus, the battery lasts up to two months and has a low-battery warning. Refill times depend on the number of daily medications and can vary from every four weeks to three days.
Storage: 28 compartments, each able to hold up to 24 Aspirin-sized pills.
Cost: The listed price is $289.95, but it can often be found on sale for much less.

Ōmcare Home Health Hub

Ōmcare smart dispenser also has telehealth abilities. This customizable device enables users to correctly take their medications and even gives users access to automated medication delivery. Dementia patients can also contact their health care support team right from the device, with video-calling features that enable them to speak to family members, physicians, and caregivers. Ōmcare offers an on-the-go mode that allows the user to dispense medications in advance while still getting reminders on when to take them.
Storage: Up to 30 days of medication, which can be delivered in easy-to-open pouches.
Cost: This device rings in at $949, with a monthly subscription fee of $9.99.


MedaCube is a great option for long-distance caregivers or family members looking to help their loved one stay on top of their medications. This pill dispenser features a touchscreen display allowing caregivers to easily set up medication times, reminders, and more. Family members can even record audio messages on the device to give their loved one a personalized reminder rather than a robotic voice or general alarm.
With MedaCube, dementia patients can also receive an early dose, missed dose, and as-needed medications, with added features that can be restricted by the caregiver. Due to the risk of medication fragments and liquids getting stuck in the dispenser, half tablets, liquid-filled gel capsules, and chewable tablets cannot be loaded into the MedaCube unless they are first loaded into an empty gelatin capsule. Liquid-filled gel capsules must also go inside an empty gelatin capsule in case they leak from their original capsule. If caregivers don’t want to load medications into the gelatin capsules, they can choose to set reminders for medications that are stored elsewhere.
Storage: Up to 16 different medications, with a 90-day supply for each.
Cost: The MedaCube sells for $1,599, but refurbished models can be purchased for less directly via the company website.

Talk with a Senior Care Advisor

Our advisors help 300,000 families each year find the right senior care for their loved ones.

Effective tips for medication adherence

If your loved one with dementia struggles with other aspects of taking medication, try the following:
  • Create a calm and quiet environment. If your loved one is reluctant to take their medications, make sure you stay calm and supportive when it is time to give them their medications. You can also try to eliminate distractions or play soothing music to calmly prepare them for medication time.
  • Help reduce medicinal side effects. Your elderly loved one with dementia may refuse to take their medications due to side effects that make them feel nauseous, agitated, dizzy, or uncomfortable. Talk to their doctor about how to reduce these symptoms to improve the situation.
  • Watch out for drug interactions. If your loved one sees multiple doctors who all prescribe different medications, drug interactions can easily be missed. Be sure at least one physician is aware of all medications, vitamins, and supplements to help minimize dangerous interactions.
  • Create a routine to fit their lifestyle. It’s crucial to find the right time of day to take medications. For example, if your loved one with dementia displays aggressive behaviors early in the morning or shows sundowning symptoms in the evening, try picking a time later in the morning after they’ve had their breakfast.
Understanding the importance of medication management, finding a suitable, locked pill dispenser, and creating a personalized medication regimen can help caregivers and dementia patients both by reducing the negative effects of dementia symptoms.
Medication adherence may become increasingly difficult in the later stages of dementia. If it’s becoming harder to care for your senior relative in their home, it may be time for long-term memory care where your loved one can be monitored around the clock. To find a suitable option for your senior loved one, reach out to a Senior Care Advisor.


  1. Jimmy, B., & Jose, J. (2011, May). Patient medication adherence: Measures in daily practiceOman Medical Journal, 26(3): 155-159.

  2. Neiman, A. B., Ruppar, T., Ho, M., Garber, L., Weidle, P. J., Hong, Y., George, M. G., & Thorpe, P. G. (2017, November 17). CDC grand rounds: Improving medication adherence for chronic disease management – innovations and opportunities. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention66(45).

Meet the Author
Nirali Desai

Nirali Desai is a copywriter at OurParents. She focuses on life enrichment opportunities and memory care. Previously, Nirali worked in social media and marketing, edited a regional senior magazine, and wrote for the American Red Cross. She holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Kansas.

The information contained in this article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to constitute medical, legal or financial advice or create a professional relationship between A Place for Mom (of which OurParents is a trademark) and the reader.  Always seek the advice of your health care provider, attorney or financial advisor with respect to any particular matter and do not act or refrain from acting on the basis of anything you have read on this site.  Links to third-party websites are only for the convenience of the reader; A Place for Mom does not recommend or endorse the contents of the third-party sites.