NEW YORK - More than half of all Americans take, on average, four prescription medications. With that many different pills, it's easy and dangerous to miss taking one of your medications.
Daily pill organizers can help, but if you're taking more than four pills a day, there may not be enough space in those organizers.
Consumer Reports has found that some pharmacies have developed new ways to organize your pills in customized packaging to help you stay on track.
Between prescription medications and over the counter products, Susan Miles takes about 15 pills a day. Until she found the right pill organizer, she would sometimes miss a dose.
"The size of the pouches can hold at least my 15 pills, and that's very important for me," Miles said. "I know what I'm taking, and I don't miss any pills."
While it takes some time each month to go through and fill the pouches, Miles says it's worth it to avoid making mistakes.
"Mistakes can easily happen," said Lisa Gill, of Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs. "A study shows that taking five or more medications increases your risk of errors - like taking the wrong drug or taking it at the wrong time."
Some independently owned drug stores and a handful of chain pharmacies offer a "blister pack" service where they sort your medications according to when you should take them. This is especially helpful for individuals with more complicated regimens.
If your local pharmacy doesn't offer these services, you can find online pharmacies that mail medication to you.
"We looked into a free service by an online pharmacy called Pillpack that syncs up your prescriptions so they refill at the same time," Gill said. "Then they organize them into individualized packets based on the time of day that you take them. And then they ship them to you."
Pillpack can also add in most over the counter drugs and supplements you take and accepts most insurance.
However, the service does not fill drugs that can cause a dependency such as the pain reliever, Vicodin, or the ADHD drug, Adderall.
If apps are more your thing for staying organized, Consumer Reports looked at several that are worth a try. Two app options, Medisafe and MyTherapy, can also send phone alerts to caregivers and family members if you miss a pill.
Keeping track of your medications and when to take them is important to good health, but juggling multiple bottles every day can be frustrating.
"I was taking the jars out every single night and laying them out on the table," Miles said. "And that became too much for me."
Pill organizers can help you organize on your own, but Consumer Reports says these new organization options can make staying on top of your medication regimen even easier.