Your Guide to Safe Disposal of Medications

Senior woman holding pills and reading the information on the label

Learn proper medication management with the help of Responsive Home Care.

With so many aging parents taking several prescriptions, and with physicians changing and adding medications and dosages to find out the perfect solutions, it is critical to know what to do with meds which are no longer needed or that have expired. There are multiple options for managing medications that need to be disposed:

  • Check labels. The medication’s label or informational literature might provide direction on exactly how to safely dispose of the drug. You could also consult the pharmacist for guidelines.
  • Participate in National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. This is the preferred way to responsibly get rid of unwanted medications, and it is organized each year in locations throughout the country by the United States Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration. Find the venue closest to you as well as the next date for the local event.
  • Use caution prior to flushing. Flushing prescription drugs down the toilet is generally not recommended, but there are particular exceptions, laid out in the FDA’s Flush List. Medications currently considered acceptable to flush if another option of disposal isn’t available include:
    • Acetaminophen
    • Benzhydrocodone
    • Buprenorphine
    • Diazepam
    • Fentanyl
    • Hydrocodone
    • Hydromorphone
    • Meperidine
    • Methadone
    • Methylphenidate
    • Morphine
    • Oxycodone
    • Oxymorphone
    • Sodium Oxybate
    • Tapentadol
  • Camouflage when discarding. Many medications can be discarded with regular trash, if safeguards are taken to restrict animals from inadvertently ingesting them or from anyone seeking drugs to locate and ingest them. The FDA advises mixing the meds with an undesirable substance – such as coffee grounds or kitty litter – and then placing in a secured plastic bag before adding to your household garbage bag.
  • Remove identifying information. Make certain to scratch out and/or shred any personal information to safeguard the older adult’s identification and to prevent anybody who is unauthorized from finding the medicine container and acquiring a refill of the medication.

For more help with medications, including medication reminders to make sure senior loved ones take prescription medications exactly as advised by the health care provider, connect with the aging care professionals at Responsive Home Care. We are also available to assist with a wide selection of aging care needs at home that improve overall wellbeing for cherished older adults, such as:

  • Help with personal care and hygiene needs
  • Meal planning and preparation
  • Light housework
  • Companionship to engage in conversations and enjoyable activities
  • And a lot more.

Contact us at 954-486-6440 to let us know more about the challenges a senior is facing, and to ask about a free of charge in-home assessment to allow us to share with you how we can help with elder care in Hollywood, FL and the surrounding areas.

Fort Lauderdale In-Home Care Tips: Avoid These Common Senior Medication Dangers

Senior man sitting and looking at his medication despondantly

A current study of over 2,000 seniors finds that a remarkable 87% take one or more prescription drugs, and a full 36% are taking five or more – in addition to 38% using over-the-counter meds on a frequent basis. Managing these medications in our later years can be quite challenging, and there are certain risks and dangers which can develop during the process.

As specialists in Fort Lauderdale home care, Responsive Home Care’s caregiving team assists older adults in ensuring meds are taken when and how they are prescribed. It is also extremely important to understand common issues seniors encounter with using their prescriptions, and just how to conquer them. For instance:

Occasionally, signs and symptoms continue in spite of taking medications properly. Busy medical practitioners may prescribe what’s known as a “starter dose” of a medication, which calls for follow-up to find out if adjustment is needed; but in many cases, that follow-up never occurs. Make sure you schedule a subsequent visit with the physician when a new medication is prescribed, and ensure the senior keeps that visit.

Side effects may be more serious than the condition being treated. Of particular concern are medications that impact a senior’s balance and thinking – increasing the prospect of a fall or other dangerous consequences. Prescriptions to be particularly vigilant about include anticholinergics, sedatives/tranquilizers, benzodiazepines, antipsychotics, mood stabilizers, and opiates. Talk with the doctor if any of these medications are prescribed for an older family member and cautiously weigh the possible risks against benefits.

Staying compliant with medication adherence can be a struggle. Remembering that one certain med needs to be taken with food, while another on an empty stomach, another with a full glass of water, one before breakfast and two at bedtime, can make it enormously challenging to take prescriptions exactly when and how they are prescribed. Enlist the services of a home care agency, like Responsive Home Care, for medication reminders.

Cost may be prohibitive. When cost for a certain prescription is high, older adults could very well be inclined to cut their dosage amounts to conserve cost – an extremely risky behavior. Older adults can instead talk to their doctors about generic versions of medications, or any other methods to keep cost at a minimum.

Know about possible interactions with other meds. Bring a full listing of every one of the medications a senior loved one is taking to a physician or pharmacist with expertise in polypharmacy, who can confirm that the drugs can safely be taken in combination with one another. Be sure to include any over-the-counter medications taken routinely as well. For a quick online assessment, this drug interaction checker lets you enter all of a senior’s medications and view any concerns that may then be shared with his or her physician.

Contact the Fort Lauderdale in-home care specialists at Responsive Home Care at 954-486-6440 for additional medication management tips, as well as for professional hands-on help with medication reminders, accompaniment to doctors’ appointments, and much more to help those you love remain healthy and safe.

New Research Finds Certain Common Medications Increase Dementia Risk

Research has connected certain medications commonly prescribed to an increase in dementia risk.

They’re currently understood to cause various short-term side effects, such as memory issues and confusion, but new research connects a number of the stronger anticholinergic drugs (such as those prescribed for Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, depression, and overactive bladder) to a markedly higher risk for dementia.

The study included two groups of seniors: 59,000 patients with dementia, and 225,000 without. About 57% of those with dementia, and 51% without, were provided at least one (and up to six) potent anticholinergic medications. Looking at other known dementia risk factors, the outcomes were an unexpected 50% greater chance of dementia in people who were taking strong anticholinergics daily for three or more years, with the greatest risk to men and women who received a dementia diagnosis before age 80.

It is worthwhile to note that there was no correlation observed between dementia and other kinds of anticholinergics (for example, antihistamines like Benadryl and GI medications).

While these findings do not prove anticholinergics as a cause for dementia, at the very least, “This study provides further evidence that doctors should be careful when prescribing certain drugs that have anticholinergic properties,” said Tom Dening, study co-author and head of Nottingham’s Center for Dementia. Dening also stressed that people currently prescribed these medications should not cease taking them suddenly, which can cause a great deal more harm.

The suggestion is for any person worried about this possible link to consult with his / her doctors to consider the advantages against any potential risks, and to investigate alternative means of treatment when possible. As an example, individuals taking medications for assistance with sleeping – something that has grown to be more and more common in older adults – can contemplate behavioral changes and a more therapeutic plan over insomnia medications.

And no matter what the medications a senior loved one takes, proper medication management is key – something that’s easier said than done with many seniors taking multiple medications in a variety of doses at differing times during the day. Responsive Home Care’s medication reminder services are perfect to be sure that older adults take the correct medications at the proper time – each and every time.

Our specially trained and experienced dementia care team is also readily available to provide unique, compassionate, effective care strategies to help minimize the challenging components of the disease, bringing about an increased quality of life for seniors and their loved ones.  Responsive Home Care, provider of in home senior care Fort Lauderdale families trust, is here to help!  Call us at 954-486-6440 at any time to learn more.