Managing Psych Medications: Getting a Pill Dosette

Managing medications: Getting a pill dosette

This post was inspired by a post a little while back by Mio at Mentally Ill in America. Managing medications can be a basic part of mental illness/chronic illness life. But doing it without a system may only work for so long, especially when brain fog gets in the way. At that point, it might be time for a pill dosette, which is a bigger step than just picking up a hunk of plastic from the store.

Pre-old person

I’ve been on twice daily (or more recently, three times daily) meds for over 10 years. I had my lineup of pill bottles, and I would pop my doses at breakfast-time and bedtime, no big deal. Having worked as a nurse for years, I figured managing my meds would never be an issue.

Things started to shift about 5 years ago. I was no longer working full-time, so I didn’t have the same routine. My mental health also declined, along with my cognitive functioning. I started using a system of putting bottles where they’d be right in front of me, and then moving them after I’d taken my dose, but that stopped working so well when I was no longer noticing things that were right in front of my face.

My system wasn’t working very well, and I was noticing more and more often that I couldn’t remember if I’d taken my morning meds. Bedtime was easier, as I couldn’t sleep without those. Then there was one morning that I took my bedtime meds in the morning, which knocked me out for the whole morning. Then that happened for a second time, which happened to be a morning I had a massage appointment booked. I had to call and cancel at the last minute because I couldn’t keep my eyes open to drive there.

Bring on the dosette

At that point, I decided to embrace my inner old lady and get this bad boy.

medication dosette

I’ve had it for a while now, and it’s working out well for me. I still forget some doses, even though it’s right in front of my face, but at least now I can see when I’ve taken them and when I haven’t.

It was a bit of mental shift to go from managing my meds in bottles to using a dosette, because they’ve definitely got that old person association. But by the time I got it, I was already well-established in chronic illness pill-popping mode. I’ve also ceased caring much about fitting in with the world, and I’m embracing my inner old person in other ways, like getting one of those shopping trolley things to carry groceries.

Moving further into old person territory

Actually, the shopping trolley felt like a more significant decision to make. The grocery store isn’t far from me, and I always used to walk. But as slow-moving as I’ve been the last couple of years, the walk is really tiring, especially if it means carrying groceries. Maybe I’ll manage to walk more with the trolley so I can pull the groceries along rather than carry them. But getting it involved really looking at my functional limitations and recognizing that they’re not going anywhere anytime soon. And if I don’t care that people are seeing me unshowered and in schleppy attire, and I’m used to moving slower than the senior citizens with walkers, there’s really no reason to care about them seeing me with my little old lady cart.

I’ve come to accept that trying to do things unaided just doesn’t work very well, and I’d rather come up with good systems to compensate than persist in trying to do things in the way I used to be able to just for the sake of it. It’s a different life, this chronic illness thing, but it’s the one I’ve got, so it doesn’t accomplish much to try to fight it.

In general, transitions in life are inevitable, but chronic illness seems to speed some of those along. I feel rather like I’m 40-something going on 70-something, and that 30-something who lived a mostly normal life feels very far away. But things change. Now, I’m a person who uses a dosette and pulls a grocery trolley, and that’s okay.

Do you have a system for organizing your medication? Are there any ways that chronic illness has made you embrace your inner old person?

58 thoughts on “Managing Psych Medications: Getting a Pill Dosette”

  1. Thank you for the post! My husband uses something very similar. I just go one day at a time. I take my evening meds around 8:00pm and count out what I need for the following morning. The next morning I put out my two pills that I take at mid-day. So far this works for me but I do see the benefit of a daily / weekly pillbox..

  2. I don’t take many pills. But I have a pill dosette since my early 30’s, I think. Or may have been late 20’s. Its one that holds tablets for the day and find it much better this way.
    Only one tablet I don’t add to it is my vitamin D tablet and use my phone to remind me of that as I take my current vitamin D every other day, with it being more than 10 micrograms. (I take daily if 10 micrograms.)
    I have never associated old with it.

  3. Johnzelle Anderson

    I never knew the name for the pill sorter was called a dosette. Thanks for sharing your experience with it and the trolley. I’ve been using the dosette since my early 20s and it’s important in remembering.

  4. Hello. I tried a pill box, but it was time consuming to fill it. I saw a TikTok video by @deathfuffy that showed a Hero pill dispenser. I may look into that if I start having trouble. Right now I just take them from the bottle but there are times I forget.

  5. I use the exact same dosette as you do. I was given the blister packs once I was discharged from hospital but only the meds for my mental health where in them and I still had the meds for my lupus in a container. I complained enough that they were able to get rid of the blister packs and luckily I’ve been really good so far at medication compliance. I feel really old as well. I went from nothing to a whack of pills (that are continually changing at the moment) which was really hard to deal with.

    1. Argh, WordPress marked your comment as spam for some reason.

      A blister pack for psych meds and lupus meds separate seems like it really defeats the whole purpose of a blister pack. I prefer the rainbow-coloured dosette to blister packs; it’s nice to still have some sense of control over the whole shebang.

      Continually changing pills is a big fat pain in the ass.

  6. The more I resist, the more troubles I have: we’ve spoken of this before, but this post added the final does of inspiration. I’m going to bite the bullet, I think. 💖

    I agree they make one feel old. So does my cane. I compensated by getting a pink one: I’m thinking of triking it out with stickers. It’s hard feeling old before our time: embracing the previously-banned colour pink has oddly helped. I’m going to look for a sexy dosette too, although eventually Visa is going to want their money back 😉

  7. I have a pill dosette. But, in my ADHD fog, I got to the point where I wasnt filling it out right. I thought I was but then I would notice pills were missing. So I stopped using the dosette and now I’m missing my pills all the time ( adhd meds, anxiety pills, antidepressant, and blood pressure). Would be nice to not have to take any of them.

  8. I’ve been using a dosette for awhile now. It helps both remembering to take them, and more importantly for me, letting me know if I’ve already taken them. More than once I’ve veered I to acute lithium toxicity because I took my meds three times in one morning or evening. I couldn’t survive without mine.

  9. We use one for my daughter as she doesn’t/can’t remember to take them on her own -even with phone reminders. Once she has a place of her own, we will do the hero thing as it will alert us if not taken as well I think. Just a little thing to help us caregivers let go a little bit…

  10. Getting my first hip replacement at age 28, being on a hospital ward where the average age was 65+, going through rehab with the same kind of age group… I felt like 28 going on 70 for quite some time…
    Getting diagnosed with Fibromyalgia at age 34 made me feel even older as my body would never stop hurting again and I “just” needed to live with it…
    I only use a pillbox for my vitamins. I try to have a routine for my painkillers. Which mostly works. I needed to add the antibiotics to that routine for 3 months in total (till December 15th), sometimes I’m a tad late but I most often remember. 😊
    Though I might need a dosette sooner rather than later, don’t know if the extra brain fogs are caused by the Fibro or the antibiotics… 🤔

  11. OK, my dear I totally reject this whole “old person” thing – I’m from NYC and I’ve been using a shopping cart (what you call a trolley) to schlep groceries since I was a kid. How else would you get a weeks worth of groceries for a family of 5 home from the store? Oh wait, you drive? Well 12 year olds don’t drive LOL P.S. and BTW – get a shopping cart/trolley that you can push – gives you something to lean on. As for a pill organizer – been using those years and years – since I started taking a lot of supplements – Ain’t got nothin’ to do with age, it’s all about convenience and ease.

  12. I have two simple, weekly dosettes- a blue one for nighttime and a clear one for morning. They work great for me because they make it easy to tell if I’ve taken my meds, but also because I only need to invest a chunk of time once a week to pull all the bottles out and pay attention to what gets taken when. After that, it’s easy to just pop open the right day and be on track. My current difficulty is with remembering to put on a new Emsam patch. I can’t fit that in my dosette! I’m toying with the idea of pulling out 7 at a time and using a sharpie to designate a day of the week for each. It just all blurs together and I can’t remember if I’ve already replaced the previous day’s patch.

  13. I know you read recently about my epilepsy travails, so you know I’ve got some memory issues. I use two day-of-the-week boxes, a green one for AM and a purple one for PM. I also have alarms set for when I need to take them. I had to take these measures because one time I accidentally overdosed because I forgot I took it and ended up in the ER . But I don’t worry about it anymore now.

  14. I’m glad that you write extensively on this topic. I have been always looking for a listener like you here. Haha… I feel my old self too.

    Even though I set my phone alarm to ring at 8pm everyday for reminding me to take Olenza, I still forget when I delay taking it due to a meeting, outing or important task, and even distractions. When I went in my bed, started to toss and turn for a really long time only did I realise that I forgot my pill. But my pill dosette is always downstairs and I am sleeping with Mum so I usually hang in there till the morning. That kind of morning, I can wake up early and easily but feel lethargic after a few hours.

    On well behaved days, my mind is shutting down around 9 plus. It just won’t work when there’s no coffee. Sometimes, coffee can’t help and I need a “nap” by lying down with my eyes closed even though I have a great morning plus exercise, with also sufficient sleep the night before.

    I always admire those who can get enough sleep with just 8 hours or less everyday. Now, I start to embrace it and just rest whenever I need it.

    I realise that a 30 min eye closing or 1 hour nap is more efficient in the long run than forcing myself to work continuously yet just write that one short paragraph of going nowhere, sitting like a vegetable for the whole day.

    I have also read about the long term effects but I will just accept it for now. I can see some effects now, I guess. I hope people can accept me too.

    1. I’ve always done best with 9-10 hours of sleep, and if I don’t get enough sleep, an afternoon nap really helps.

      I’ve tried reminders for various things on my phone, and I also run into problems if I’m distracted at the time my phone reminders.

  15. I think a dosette box is a really good idea once anyone starts to take more than two or three medications. It is very likely that each medication will come with different directions – frequency and schedule of doses, perhaps some of them with food or without food. I think dossettes are a great idea. Except maybe for sodium valproate because it is stinky,

  16. I really respect your mindset, it’s so important to find what works in OUR individual situation rather than do things the way we think we should. Life is very much not a one size fits all! I have the same pill box and getting it at 20 made me feel old as well. Whatever works though, right?

  17. I don’t have a chronic illness, but I do take a fair amount of pills (be it medicinal or herbal). I try to separate them out between morning and evening so I’m not taking a barrel-full at any one time. It works though there have been times I can’t tell if I’ve taken something or not because I just take them straight from the bottle / tablet. Honestly, a dosette sounds like a pretty good idea!

  18. I also use a dosette. Sometimes I would forget doses but mainly I bought it because I had issues with taking medication. It reduced the amount of thought and effort involved. It was easier to just open the window and swallow the pills without thought. I try to put all my meds for a month into dosette boxes.

  19. I like this post. I have used a blister pack for quite a few years now. Differently getting old. I really am struggling right now with the other getting old things, My brain has been several affected. As well as the rest of my body. Time to accept things and learn to live with them.

  20. It annoys me because pharmacies here have only 2 or 3 types of dosette and they often can’t fit larger vitamin pills. If I don’t put it in my 2 dosette’s (1 morning,1 night), I’ll forget. I also need multiple alarms or yes, I’ll forget

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