Packaging trends designed with seniors in mind

Six healthcare packaging innovations designed with seniors in mind

As the population ages, the number of seniors who are managing multiple chronic health conditions and are prone to injury continues to rise. The ability to open healthcare packaging and understand instructions can be a challenge, with significant implications on drug compliance and healthcare costs.

Here are six packaging innovations from The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies that are designed with the needs of seniors in mind.

  1. Getting a better grip on medications

One of the most common struggles for seniors when it comes to opening healthcare packaging is getting a grip on tabs. To make packaging easier to open, consider increasing overall size to make their presence more obvious and improving surface friction to make them easier to grasp. Because traditional locking mechanisms can also be an obstacle for seniors, include low-strength opening or the addition of a rubber-like substance that allows them to get a better grip.

Key takeaway:

Making medication packaging easier to get into not only reduces frustration for patients but it can also help improve medication compliance.

  1. Adding punch to blister packs

Blister packs are on the rise, with demand in the U.S. pharmaceutical market predicted to expand 6.5% per year to $4.4 billion by 2021, accounting for 12.9 billion units.1 But many seniors find it difficult to peel away the foil tabs. To make blister packs easier to open, consider a punch-out model that requires less strength and dexterity. Calendar packs that include sleeves in counts of five or seven to fit daily or weekly medication schedules are also gaining traction.

Key takeaway:

As production of blister packs continues to rise, simple packaging changes can also make them easier for patients to use so they’re more likely to stick to their medication schedule.

  1. Using smart technology

With more than 45% of global consumers using a smart device to monitor a health condition, healthcare packaging is moving into the digital age.2 Following are a few examples of the smart technologies that are at the forefront of this movement:

  • Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) and Near Field Communication (NFC) sensors on product packaging to monitor when packages are opened and doses are removed.2
  • Bluetooth technology to support dosage counting and compliance using a connected device, such as a smartphone.2
  • Quick Response (QR) codes on packaging, allowing users to use a smartphone to link to online information on product dosage.

Key takeaway:

The emergence of new technologies coupled with the wide use of smartphones and other digital devices is pushing healthcare packaging into the digital age to support user-friendly design.  

  1. Adding dosage tracking capabilities

With advancements in smart technology, dosage tracking capabilities in healthcare packaging are also expanding. Using RFID or NFC technology, tracking-enabled packaging can recognize when packages are opened and doses are removed. These sensors can also be programed to provide medication reminders and to alert patients — and their doctors — when doses have been missed, giving healthcare providers the opportunity to remotely monitor medication compliance.

Key takeaway:

Tracking-enabled packaging can provide a valuable service to healthcare providers and their elderly patients who may be on multiple medications and struggling to remember what to take and when.

  1. Verifying product integrity

Smart technology is also being used to verify the integrity of products as they move through the supply chain. For biologic medications that must be kept at a specific temperature during distribution, RFID-equipped sensors can be used to monitor environmental conditions and send alerts. This is critical when you consider that 20% of products in the cold chain are compromised during transport and handling, and that cold chain logistics comprise $260 billion of the total pharmaceutical market.3

Key takeaway:

With an increasing number of temperature-sensitive medications on the market, adding integrity verification capabilities could be a game-changer.

  1. Striking a balance between child safe and senior friendly

It’s estimated that 38% of all child drug poisoning cases originate from a grandparent’s medication,4 which makes testing child-resistant packaging against the opening capabilities of seniors a key priority and an ongoing challenge. The solution may lie in a more universal approach, creating packaging with features that have broad appeal across the general population, including clearer text, easier-to-open closures, smart technology applications and other user-friendly qualities. 

Key takeaway:

Making healthcare packaging child resistant and senior friendly does not have to be mutually exclusive.

Changing the user experience in healthcare packaging

With 66% of consumers experiencing some form of packaging “wrap rage” and 40% reporting injuries, the problem of packaging for seniors is significant.5 By incorporating more user-friendly design, packagers can build greater loyalty in a senior population that is growing in size and spending power.

Need help with a compliance, dose-pack or other senior-friendly, child-resistant packaging project? MGS can solve your toughest challenges. Email us at or fill out the form below.

1 Butschli, Jim. “Single-Dose Packs Pushing Blister Packaging Growth.” PMMI Media Group, July 25, 2017. Accessed July 2019.

2 “Webinar — Healthy Living: Prevention and Self-Care as a Lifestyle.” Euromonitor International, July 25, 2019. Accessed in 2019.

3 Anderson, Monica; Perrin, Andrew. “Tech Adoption Climbs Among Older Adults.” Pew Research Center, May 17, 2017. Accessed July 2019.

4 “Making pharma packaging work better for children and the elderly.” Informa Markets, 2018. Accessed July 2019.

5 “Pharmaceutical packaging design for elderly consumers.” Esko-Graphics, Nov. 3, 2017. Accessed July 2019.

See all news See all news