Senior Care 101: Safe Disposal of Medications

Senior woman holding pills and reading the information on the label
These tips will help ensure the safe disposal of medications.

With so many seniors taking numerous prescriptions, and with physicians adding and changing dosages and medications to find just the right solutions, it’s essential to understand what to do when they are no longer needed or have expired. There are several options for safe disposal of medications:

  • Check labels. The prescription’s label or informational literature might provide guidance about how to properly dispose of the drug. You can also consult with the pharmacist for suggestions.
  • Participate in National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. This is the preferred method to responsibly dispose of unwanted medications, and it is held every year in locations across the country by the U.S. Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration. Discover the venue nearest to you as well as the next date for the local event.
  • Exercise care prior to flushing. Flushing prescription drugs down the toilet is usually not advised, but there are specific exceptions, listed in the FDA’s Flush List. Medications currently deemed acceptable to flush include:
    • Acetaminophen
    • Benzhydrocodone
    • Buprenorphine
    • Diazepam
    • Fentanyl
    • Hydrocodone
    • Hydromorphone
    • Meperidine
    • Methadone
    • Methylphenidate
    • Morphine
    • Oxycodone
    • Oxymorphone
    • Sodium Oxybate
    • Tapentadol
  • Conceal when disposing. Many prescription drugs can be discarded with regular trash, if precautions are taken to restrict animals from unintentionally ingesting them or from anyone looking for drugs to locate and take them. The FDA endorses mixing the prescription drugs with an undesirable substance – such as coffee grounds or kitty litter – and then placing in a secured plastic bag before adding to your household trash bag.
  • Eliminate identifying information. Make certain to scratch out and/or shred any personal information to guard the older adult’s identification in order to prevent anyone who is unauthorized from discovering the prescription container and getting a refill of the medication.

To get more help with medications, including medication reminders to make sure older adults take medications just as recommended by the physician, contact the aging care professionals at Sage Home Care. We’re also available to assist with a variety of aging care needs at home that increase quality of life for older adults, such as:

  • Assistance with personal care and hygiene needs
  • Meal planning and preparation
  • Light housework
  • Companionship to engage in enjoyable activities and conversations
  • Transportation and accompaniment to medical appointments and outings
  • Running errands, such as picking up prescriptions and groceries
  • And much more

Contact us online or call us at 1-800-578-4554 to let us know more about the challenges a senior loved one is facing, and to request a free in-home assessment to learn more about how our in home care in Greenwich, CT and the surrounding areas can help.

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