Do you have aging parents? If so, this year, April 16th is National Clean Out Your Medicine Cabinet Day, which can be important for several reasons. Many seniors have a collection of unused medications, including prescription pain medications, sleeping pills, or muscle relaxants. What these drugs share in common may be that they are prone to abuse. Family members with dependency issues, or even younger family members interested in experimenting, may take these medications from your aging parents. In the face of an opioid crisis, regularly disposing of these medications may be more important than ever. Additionally, as an aging person’s eyesight or mental capacity decreases, the risk of an accidental overdose can increase, making cleaning out medicine cabinets an important safety measure for seniors. Let us review some ways to help aging parents on National Clean Out Your Medicine Cabinet Day.
Consider reviewing your parent’s current list of medications. The first step to cleaning out your parent’s medication cabinet should be to determine which medications your parent is currently taking. It may be possible to sign into a patient portal or obtain a current printout from your parent’s physician. Not only can this assist with the cleaning out of the medicine cabinet, but it can have the added benefit of helping to assure your parent is taking the proper medications.
Once you have reviewed the current list of medications, you can set aside the bottles of current medications, checking to see that none of them are expired. After this, you can sort through the remaining bottles to determine if there are any “as needed” medications, which should be retained. If any of these are opioids or other medications prone to abuse or accidental overdose, consider creating a locked safe space to store the medications.
After taking these steps, you can take steps to properly dispose of any unused or expired medications. Flushing medications or throwing them in the trash can have severe environmental implications. Most drug stores today have secure bins, where you can safely deposit expired or unused medications. Some physician’s offices may also take medications to properly dispose of them for you.
Any way you look at it, participating in National Clean Out Your Medicine Cabinet Day can have far-reaching positive effects. These can include keeping your parents safe, as well as any other family members who may have access to the medications of your aging parents, and keeping people in general safe by properly disposing of the medications. With such a win-win scenario, be certain to mark April 16, 2021, on your calendar and spread the word.
For more information about navigating issues that impact your aging parents, please reach out to our office to schedule an appointment. We do telephone, computer, and face-to-face appointments. Our face-to-face appointments are held outside in the open air (frequently selected by clients for document signing) and inside our office conference room. We follow all CDC guidelines. Our office procedures and COVID-19 safety protocols are designed and enhanced by medical review and air quality engineering and design.