Better daily pill storage and dispensing systems
Etched into my memory is looking up from the morning paper to see the little pile of pills on the breakfast table - my dad took them each morning. I made some comment about the number and he sighed. A few decades later, on my own breakfast table sat a similar pile of pills. Yikes, I'm there. One of the lifestyle changes one makes upon aging is that the pill pile grows to the point of needing some weekly or monthly pill planners.
Clear Rx by Deborah Adler
In 2005, Graphic designer Deborah Adler created the ClearRx prescription packaging system:
• Easily-read placement of drug name at top and on a flat surface - no turning the bottle to read.
• Hierarchy - most important info (drug name, dosage, instructions) is placed above the less important data (quantity, expiration date, doctor's name).
• Upside down so label can be wrapped around the top and the cap forms a base.
• Color-coded rings so meds in a shared cabinet will not get mixed up.
Commercial pill packages
After my pill pile grew, I wished for a service from a drug company in which the customer would submit all prescriptions with frequency and dosage. A doctor could submit the prescriptions online. For over-the-counter drugs like vitamins, minerals, and supplements; the customer could check items and mg quantities online. The prescription and OTC components could be mixed together or there could be two separate pills. The pills could be color coded: yellow = morning, blue = evening. The drug company would then assemble a single pill (or 2) with all of the necessary ingredients, and ship them. The customer would have to renew each month - allowing/requiring the customer and the doctor to keep ingredients current (it could simply be an email reply 'No change'. But, I suspect there are too many regulations and drug ownerships to make the idea feasible.
In late 2017, came an automated compliance strip packaging system, which packages all of a person's prescription and nonprescription medications together in perforated pouches for each time of the day with each package individually labeled. I tried a similar system from Amazon, but ran into trouble with a poor transition from bottles to the packs and I missed having a relationship with a local pharmacist.
Jim's weekly pill box system
A system that organizes and simplifies which pills to take at which time of the day - better than just conveying what day to take. I rearranged the daily boxes in the holder tray so that their position communicated visual clues for the status of the pills - taken already or not yet taken. When the tray is positioned on the shelf, the sightline shows the full box with the label facing dead-on to the viewer, the half full position moves the label away at an angle, and the empty position places the label in a tough to see horizontal position.
Concept: Visual reminders of pills taken that day conveyed by the boxes sitting within the base to convey a different status of the contents. Examples below:
1. Monday morning: All boxes full, labels facing user.
2. Friday morning: Mon-Thurs boxes empty, Friday-Sunday boxes full.
3. Friday afternoon: Mon-Thurs boxes empty, Friday morning pills taken - box rotated halfway up to show half empty.
4. Saturday morning: Friday box empty, box rotated up all the way, label away from user.
5. Sunday night: All boxes empty.
Pill storage boxes and jars
• Disgust at fitting round bottles in square cabinet.
• Depth of cabinet prevents seeing all bottles at once.
• Clutter of variety of sizes, typography, distracting info.
• Clear RX by Adler & Glaser.
• Prescription packs.
• Amassing more prescriptions.
• Visual distinctions, color-coding, placement on bottle
• Minimal footprint on shelf space.
• Minimal info - time of day, dosage, med name.
• Consistent orderly visual system.
• See appropriate info at a glance.
• Square boxes/bottles - solves frustration with inefficient round bottles in cabinet.
• Art exhibit - no need to hide them, see them all at once, see at a glance which are low.
• Plastic box label design, color-coded bands, text: centered, FLRR, U&lc. Spice jars: centered, all caps, bold.
• Color-coded bands - primary focus for refill info.
• A consistent and efficient system of containers, labels, colors, and text that help make refilling weekly pill planners easier and quicker.
1 Color-coding by dosage time on thick bands at bottom of square plastic boxes.
2 Thick bands at top to better see when running out of pills.
3 Thin bands at top.
4 Linear left to right row, instead of top to bottom, with pill capsule shape.
5 Glass spice jars with color-coded bands and name printed on cap:
Left - Lid codes: Morning only. Misc stuff. Morning & Evening. Bedtime. Right: Lined up on the kitchen counter.
The jars of items looked so good, I set them up, all visible, in a row on the kitchen counter, as an art installation. Worried that the window light might affect the medicine, I moved them to a ledge in the darker Laundry Room (I might explore using amber or tinted glass - I just need to see how many pills are left, not the color of the pills.) I filled the extra jars with stuff for the exhibit - Lego pieces, Okie red dirt, small white nails, gold chain, and screws.