Helping patients with diabetes and visual or manual impairment (part 2): Medication administration

May 15, 2012

Part 2 of this article discusses assistive devices that help impaired diabetes patients self-administer medication.

Along with other sequelae, uncontrolled diabetes can lead to visual impairment, nerve damage, and even musculo-skeletal complications. In people with diabetes aged 40 years and older, approximately 28.5% have diabetic retinopathy.1 Up to 50% of patients with type 1 diabetes have limited joint mobility syndrome in the hands.2

Part 2 of this article discusses adaptive strategies for patient self-administration of medication.

Partial or full vision loss is a major barrier to safe medication administration.

Medication bottles and organizers

Pharmacists can help patients affected by vision loss by offering to fill each medication in a different-sized bottle for easier differentiation. Patients may also benefit from a pill box with raised imprint or Braille labeling.

Another strategy is for patients to glue different-shaped buttons on the caps of medication bottles and/or attach strong rubber bands around the bottles to distinguish them. The number of buttons glued onto each cap can indicate the number of pills to be taken. The number and position of the rubber bands (along the top, near the base, or both) can indicate the frequency and time of administration, respectively.3

Recordable devices are available that can be attached to the bottom of each prescription bottle to give the administration instruction (e.g., Talking Rx), but these can be expensive (approximately $15 per device).

For patients who have difficulty removing the correct number of tablets or capsules from a medication bottle, unit-dose packaging can be another helpful option.