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Useful Locked Pill Dispensers for Dementia Patients

Written by OurParents Staff
 about the author
13 minute readLast updated January 3, 2024

Dementia is a condition that causes brain impairments that could result in poor judgment, limited functional skills, and memory loss. As symptoms surface in your loved one, ensuring they adhere to their medication regimen may become challenging. Both missed doses and overdosing pose serious health risks; therefore, it’s essential to oversee medication management and reminders for your parent with dementia. Thankfully, various locked pill dispensers are designed for seniors with dementia in mind.

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Why medication management is essential for seniors with dementia

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, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).[01] Not following prescription instructions could result in accidental drug interactions, worsening conditions, drug dependency, or hospitalizations, according to findings from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.[02]
As seniors age, medication adherence becomes crucial for long-term health. They could have trouble sticking to their medication regimen for a number of reasons. As a caregiver, it’s important to watch out for the following signs that your loved one is 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 be unable 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 your aging parents:
  • Meet their healthcare goals
  • Reduce side effects
  • Control chronic illnesses
  • Successfully recovery from short-term illnesses

Helpful features of a locking pill dispenser for seniors

When searching for the best pill dispenser for dementia patients, consider the following features:
  • Easy-to-use details. It’s important that a medication dispenser for dementia patients is easy to operate. Look for a large display, clearly labeled buttons, and simple dispensing features.
  • Capacity. Choose a dementia pill dispenser based on the number of medications your loved one takes, how often they need to be taken, and the size of the pills. Polypharmacy (taking five or more medications) is common in older adults,[03] so it may be difficult to find a dispenser that can store their entire regimen.
  • Alarms and reminders. Some pill dispenser systems have alarms that make sounds, flash lights, and speak. Find an alert system that will work for your loved one’s needs.
  • Locks. Locks help prevent seniors with dementia from taking pills more than once and taking pills at the wrong time. You 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 connects to an external device. Websites and downloadable apps can connect to pill dispensers to help you 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.

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Best medication dispensers for dementia patients

The following list includes safe and easy-to-use locking pill dispensers at various price points that can help your loved one with dementia take their prescribed medications as instructed.


MedMinder is an affordable medication management solution that improves medication adherence. Its user-friendly interface eliminates digital readouts and buttons and looks like a basic 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 users take the medications for the right day. The dispenser can also be customized with personalized greetings, family pictures, and location-based weather forecasts. It also has a medical alert button that can connect seniors to an emergency monitoring center.
The automatic dispenser uses cellular technology to wirelessly update the patient’s dosage activity. You can access and update your loved one’s medication information online and can choose to receive automated emails and text messages about their adherence.
Storage: 28 compartments that can fit multiple medications
Cost: MedMinder is a subscription-based pill dispenser that locks and costs $125 per month, plus a one-time initiation fee of $100. MedMinder also offers subscription pharmacy services and medication delivery.

Hero 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, the user is 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 you can also use to monitor your 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 loved one’s 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 in individual compartments
Cost: There is a one-time initiation fee of $99.99, then a monthly subscription fee of $44.99 (with a 12-month minimum commitment). Savings may be available for those who are able to pay upfront for a 12-month or 24-month subscription.


Med-E-Lert is a locked medication 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 their 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 MR-357FL is a pill box for dementia patients that automatically unlocks at specific times you manually set. The dispenser emits a buzzing sound when it’s time to take a medication. The compact device uses cellular technology to alert you of medication nonadherence events via email, text messages, and automated phone calls. You 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 MR-357FL usually costs $307, and cellular monitoring starts at $16 per month.

e-pill’s Voice Pro

The Voice Pro is a small, portable, and locked automatic pill dispenser for seniors with dementia that enables users to take the correct medications at the right time. This dispenser has Bluetooth capabilities, allowing you to set up medication times and doses and review dosage records via a smartphone app.
Features include a key-locked lid and 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 $449.95, but it can often be found on sale for much less.


MedaCube is a great option if you live far away from your parents but still want to help them stay on top of their medications. This pill dispenser features a touchscreen display where you can easily set up medication times, reminders, and more. You can even record audio messages on the device to give your loved ones personalized medication reminders for dementia patients throughout the day.
With MedaCube, users can also receive an early dose, missed dose, and as-needed medications. 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.
Storage: Up to 16 different medications, with a 90-day supply for each
Cost: The MedaCube sells for $1,799, but refurbished models are available for $1,599.

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How to establish effective medication reminders for loved ones with dementia

If your loved one with dementia struggles with other aspects of taking medication, try the following strategies:
  • Create a calm and quiet environment. If your loved one is reluctant, make sure you stay calm and supportive when it is time to give them their medications. You can also try eliminating distractions or playing soothing music to prepare them for medication time.
  • Help reduce side effects. Your elderly loved one with dementia may refuse to take their medications due to bothersome side effects like nausea, dry mouth, or fatigue. Talk to their doctor about these symptoms and options for minimizing them.
  • Watch out for drug interactions. When a senior sees multiple doctors who all prescribe different medications, drug interactions can easily be missed. Be sure at least one physician is aware of all your loved one’s 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 experiences sundowning symptoms in the evenings, try to schedule their medications for the morning and early afternoon.
Understanding the importance of medication management, finding a suitable locked pill dispenser, and creating a personalized medication regimen can help improve your loved one’s health and quality of life.
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 they can be monitored and supported around the clock. For help finding a suitable senior living community for your loved one, contact a Senior Care Advisor.


  1. 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).

  2. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (2021, May 26). 4 Medication Safety Tips for Older Adults.

  3. Varghese, D., Ishida, C., & Haseer Koya, H. (2023, August 28) Polypharmacy. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information.

Meet the Author
OurParents Staff

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