Spring cleaning is a great time for older adults to dig into their medicine cabinets and discover what’s inside. Gregory Johnson, M.D., Good Samaritan Society Chief Medical Officer, says you can make your community safer by getting drugs you don’t use out of your home.
“The senior population sometimes accumulates medications over the years. The goal of the program is to look for expired medications or medications that you’re just not using anymore and dispose of them,” Dr. Johnson says.
Preventing drug misuse
Millions of people are misusing prescription pain relievers. Often, they take them from their friends and family members. National Drug Take Back Day, hosted April 24 by the Drug Enforcement Agency, wants to cut down on this problem.
“They get lost. Unfortunately, they sometimes get stolen or at least get misused. Or they can be confusing because they are in there with medications you are using. The idea is to take them out of circulation and to do it mindfully. Nobody wants to throw away a medication that still has value because we all pay for that,” Dr. Johnson says.
Society staff members can help with this process. Jodi Cerny, RN, is a case manager for Good Samaritan Society – Home Health – Grand Island in Nebraska.
“I’ve been places where there’s just oodles and oodles of medication,” Jodi says.
Society home health staff can step in
Jodi spends a lot of time in and out of homes helping people with medications, wound care and monthly procedures. Her team of home health nurses push patients each year to organize.
“I say, ‘Hey, next time I come can you get all your pills together? Everything that you have. Everything that you don’t use anymore,’” Jodi says.
When you identify medications to get rid of, you can take them to collection sites across the country.
“We make a pile, put it in a bag and say ok, here’s the date you can take it to the hospital. The DEA will be there or the police. You can turn over all this medicine,” Jodi says.
Pills you and your loved ones won’t have to worry about moving forward. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration receives more than 100,000 reports each year associated with a suspected medication error. The FDA also recommends never taking drugs beyond their expiration date.
“It’s better to stay on top of it before it gets to be a problem,” Jodi says.
If you’re unable to get to a collection site, home health staff can help you dispose of the medications too.
“Per our disposal policy, we have bags of kitty litter or we’ll use their coffee grounds,” Jodi says.
“With them and their permission, we’ll empty everything out, put it in there, add some water and throw it in the trash. Then we always take a marker and mark off their names before we throw the bottles away.”