Smart Ways to Make Home Life Easier (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
SMART WAYS TO MAKE HOME LIFE EASIER:
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 www.ama-assn.org/ama/pub/article/2036-2515.html.)
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
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 www.epill.com.
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 (www.fossil.com) 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
Shopping online at Yahoo's shopping site (shopping.yahoo.com), 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 (www.casio.com) 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 (www.timex.com) has a number of watches in varying sizes with
alarms. Starting at $30, some styles are attractive enough to sell on their
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 (www.omega.ch) 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