Man Uses Circular Saw to Open Pill Bottle: Tips and 4 Pill Box Styles that He Should Have Known About

Universal/accessible design of the home from an occupational therapy and a construction perspective. This blog is part of a quest for cool, convenient, functional design that makes life safer, easier, and as maintenance-free as possible. It's about the lifestyle.

True story, one of my clients didn't have the fine motor skills to open a pill bottle so he put it in a vice and used a saw to cut off the top. That was before there was an occupational therapist on the scene.  So in honor of my client with the saw, here is a post on alternatives to utilizing a saw to open a pill bottle.  Thanks to Lauren Moran for putting it together.

There are several types of pill boxes available to fit the needs of individuals with varying limitations and abilities. 

Pill organizers we will be recommending improve independence for people with:
  • Sensory deficits.
  • Memory impairments.
  • Decreased fine motor skills.
  • Upper extremity weakness
  • Limited range of motion due to pain or injury.
Tips to assist in medication management:
  •  If vision is an issue, modifications can be made to medication containers, pills (contact local pharmacy), and organizers.
  •  Some people may always require set up assistance, but to achieve greater independence written step by step instructions to help avoid error.
  •  Keep an updated medication list (can be laminated and fit into a wallet depending on vision) that includes medication name, dosage and prescription details, color, and purpose.
  • Create of the list to refer to it weekly or biweekly to fill the pill box.  
  • Have an individual “teach” therapists or caregivers how to fill the pill box to ensure comprehension of medication management.


Pill box for people with visual deficits:

The Seven Day Color Deep Capacity Pill Box

  • Each compartment is color coded for each day of the week
  • Extra deep compartments come with secure lids
  • Large black contrasting letters for low vision
  • Travel sized
  • Each box is tactilely marked for identification.


Simple Pill Box for Organizing Complicated Medication Schedules:


Reizen Weekly Pill Box

Reizen Weekly Pill Box - 7 day with morn, noon, eve, bed. Blue Base with Clear Boxes

  • 7 day pill organizer
  • Compartments for each day are marked by day in print and Braille
  • Each day's pill box has 3 compartments marked in Braille
  • Days of the week are printed on base box holder
  • Pop each day's pill box out and carry it with you

Pill dispenser for People with Memory Issues

Med-E-Lert Automatic Pill Dispenser
Featuring a secured, tamper-proof locking key system to avoid over-medication and an easy to program interface, the Med-E-Lert is an ideal assistant for Alzheimers and Parkinsons patients, visually or mentally impaired individuals, patients with complicated daily medical regimes or for those who simply need help adhering to a new medication schedule. Three different alarm tones and a blinking light alert the patient when medication needs to be taken and will not turn off until the pill dispenser is tilted on its side to dispense the pills.
  • 28 Compartments Each Can Hold Several Pills (Up To 18 Aspirin Size Pills)
  • Compartment size 20% larger than other automatic dispensers
  • Comes with white lid
  • Fully automatic pill dispenser
  • Easy to use
  • Capacity: one week's supply of pills up to four times per day
  • Long duration buzzer sounds until pills are removed
  • Clear lid to be able to see what pills have been taken, comes with white lid as well.
Pill Organizer for Travel and for people with poor fine motor skills.

Sabi Vivacity Line Folio Travel Pill Organizer
I like this pill box but I think it looks a little masculine, too bad it doesn't come in pink.

Traveling pill box
  • The Folio Travel Pill Organizer is made for those on a twice daily a.m./p.m. regimen of vitamins, supplements, or pill.
  • Folio has one shared clip-and-flip lid for easy loading and extracting.
  • The bathtub-shaped compartments make extraction of pills quick and easy and there's no turning upside-down and shaking.
  • Traditional pill organizers require strong pincer grasp to open lids, but pills are easy to access for those with limited strength/dexterity.

Occupational therapy intervention can be focused on medication management, which includes set up, retrieval of medication, and scheduling. Limitations may be identified at any aspect of the process and adaptions and modifications can be made so that the individual is able to become more independent with the task
If a person has limited pinch strength and is unable to open a traditional pill box, an easy-open lid is recommended (see below). If a person has difficulty remembering to take medications, an OT can assist in setting alarms or creating visual reminders. If vision is an issue, modifications can be made to medication containers, pills (contact local pharmacy), and organizers.

Additional suggestions for enhancing independence with medication management can be found here:

Please post any questions about medication management, adaptations, or suggestions for pill boxes. 

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