Managing Psych Medications: Getting a Pill Dosette

medication dosette
Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay

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

Iโ€™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.

weekly medication dosette with four slots per day

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 a 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?

Ashley L. Peterson

BScPharm BSN MPN

Ashley is a former mental health nurse and pharmacist and the author of four books.

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

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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,

  4. I really respect your mindset, itโ€™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?

  5. 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!

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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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