How to Safely Dispose of Unused Medications

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For seniors and elderly, medications can become an important component of life, helping to regulate blood pressure, control pain and manage symptoms of advanced conditions. However, with time, the medications your loved one takes may be changed by their doctor as doses are adjusted or are no longer needed. This can leave you with a cabinet full of unnecessary medications.

If this situation sounds familiar, the FDA advises proper disposal of these medications to prevent abuse or contamination. This is especially important for family caregivers who provide dementia or Alzheimer’s care as additional medications in the home can pose an extreme health and safety hazard to seniors who suffer from memory loss or poor judgment. So what are the steps for proper mediation disposal?

First, check the label. Some medications come with directions that tell you how to dispose of unused doses. While a few can be flushed, others should not be put down the drain. Follow the directions on the label for safe disposal. You can also contact your local government to see if your community has a “Take-Back Program” for unused prescription drugs. This is one of the safest ways to dispose of medications, but it is not available in all areas.

The final choice is to simply drop the pills in the trash. Unfortunately, there are cases where individuals will search through the trash looking for medications.  For those who do not want to take this risk, medications can be taken out of the bottle and ground up before being disposed of. Some caregivers say they mix the crushed medications with coffee grounds or cat litter to further deter people from sifting through their trash.

With the medication safely disposed of, many people forget to address the bottle in which the medications were contained. Check the label and see if there is any personal information that you do not want to be read by others. If so, take the time to scratch or blot out identifying information on the pharmacy tag. If you’re still in doubt about proper disposal techniques, speak with your pharmacist. They can advise you on the best and proper ways to dispose of any medications you have.

If your aging parent or loved one needs assistance with medication reminders or other activities of daily living that you are unable to assist with regularly, contact Home Care Assistance, a leading home care provider, serving Denton and Collin Counties. To speak with a Care Manager, call 972-468-6010 and schedule a complimentary in-home consultation to further discuss individual senior care needs.