Smart Ways to Make Home Life Easier (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Smart Ways to Make Home Life Easier (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
Family Tech:


Alarm watches can dispense reminders about medication

Anne Meyers - For the Journal-Constitution

Sunday, September 10, 2000

Our activities rely on a set schedule. There are meetings, appointments and outings that can be coordinated by leather-bound calendars, time-management systems, Palm Pilots and computerized calendar merges.

There are also simple lunch dates, scheduled on scraps of paper and synchronized with simple wristwatches.

For most of the 1980s I lived without a wristwatch. My bedside alarm clock signaled the start of a new workday.

I drove a car without a factory-installed clock, so I purchased a stick-on digital clock for $1.99 and placed it on the steering wheel. I was frequently on time, and the clock lasted beyond the car's usefulness.

One day in 1990, my friend Linda gave me a watch. At first, I wore it during Linda's wedding activities to show that I was grateful for the gift. It took a few days and I had a new habit. I became watch-dependent.

My watches are simple time-keeping devices. Some have second hands, but none tells the date.

Being the chief time-keeper of my household makes watch-wearing a significant part of my job description. I get to the schoolbus on time, coordinate our play dates, and manage my work and volunteer duties all within a reasonable fraction of punctuality.

I am also responsible for doling out a regular set of medications, and have failed more than once at getting them delivered on time. With medication, timing is everything. Non-compliance with medications is a universal problem, causing added strain on patients and their families.

Forgetting to take a medication brings repeat and more severe infections, added hospitalizations, deaths and billions of dollars in added health care burden in the United States each year. (See this article from the American Medical Association at

I take my job seriously, but my memory plays its own game. There are times when my recollection of removing the pill from the dispenser is of yesterday or the day before.

It helped when I got a seven-day pillbox. Pills for each day are placed in compartments in the box. If there are still four pills remaining at 5 p.m., I know that I have missed a dose. This system has a huge fault; by the time I realize the dose is missed, eight hours have passed.

Technology will now assure accuracy in pill-dispensing. I will buy a reminder system.

My first choice will probably be a watch with an alarm. There are also pillbox alarms and compact timers for briefcase, purse, backpack or pocket.

An extensive selection is available online at

The Web site features a line of vibrating reminder watches and clocks. The vibrating timepieces assure privacy for watch-wearers of all ages. The six-alarm watches start at $80.

If a watch is not your choice, you can buy the tiny MedAlarm Micro Medication Computer. The product offers up to 24 alarms a day and keeps tabs on you with a built-in compliance tracker. Retailing for $50 with batteries ($40 on sale at e-pill), it features a loud alarm sound.

If you want a more elaborate alarm watch, the e-pill site also offers the Cadex 12-alarm watch with a medical ID. Users can program up to 12 reminders, including scrolling text messages. This watch also keeps critical health information in a Medical ID Databank. Press the "alert" button to display name and phone number, medical conditions, allergic reactions, medications, emergency contact, insurance information and more. This watch retails for $90, but is on sale at e-pill for $60.

Another item is the MedTimer clock. This portable, 5-inch-by-1-inch device is programmable by the half-hour, allowing the user to set up to 31 alarms per day. It costs $35.

For simple pill reminders, you can buy the Pill Bottle Alarm. This device attaches to a pill vial with suction. It beeps if the user forgets to take the medication. This product is only useful for twice-a-day or once-a-day medications (unless the user resets the device after each pill) and is sold in a three-pack for $50.

Many manufacturers offer watches with alarms. There are analog and digital ones, attractive and homely ones, one-alarm and multialarm varieties.

Fossil's ( Brain line starts at $75 and comes in more than a dozen styles. The Brain is a unisex watch. It stores up to 30 memos with 32 characters each. With seven alarms, this chrono/stopwatch is also an ideal pill reminder.

Shopping online at Yahoo's shopping site (, I came across an LCD calculator/alarm watch. It may not be pretty, but it adds and it alarms for $10.

Search the Casio watch collection ( for "alarm," and you will find more than 100 matches. The Technowear Timepiece features a voice recorder and five multifunction alarms for $80. It offers time for 24 time zones, a stopwatch, a calculator and a calendar.

Trusty Timex ( has a number of watches in varying sizes with alarms. Starting at $30, some styles are attractive enough to sell on their looks.

The Timex Turn & Pull alarm is an analog watch with an accurate-to-the-minute alarm function. The instructions are brief and simple enough to be engraved on the back of the watch.

Timex boasts about the simplicity of the watch settings, describing it as a settable watch for everything you need to do. An added selling point of the watch is its 40 beeps and flashing nightlight to rouse even the soundest sleeper. It works as a perfect traveling alarm clock.

The Timex Turn & Pull alarm is available in eight different styles ranging in price from $50-$65.

For the higher-end watch enthusiast, Omega ( offers the X-33 timepiece with alarm. The watch is said to be the choice for manned space missions and costs just over $2,000. I won't be purchasing this model unless I have a planned trip to the moon.

Anne Meyers is a free-lance writer living in Lawrenceville.

Copyright Anne Meyers
Scroll to top