by Amanda Conschafter, blog editor
Millions of children now grow up in homes headed by grandparents – who may not store their prescription medications out of children’s reach. In this week’s “Promoting Safe Medication Use and Storage” webinar by the Alliance for Aging Research, experts from several nonprofits considered possible solutions. Webinar panelists explored how seniors can safely store prescription medications, dispose of unused medications and stay on track with the medications their physician has prescribed them.
To avoid children’s unsupervised ingestion or overdose of medications, which prompt nearly a half million calls to Poison Control each year, Emily Skor of the CHPA Educational Foundation encouraged child-resistant caps instead of easy-open or day-of-the-week pill containers. She also advised keeping medications up and out of reach for children – perhaps in a location known only to the patient taking the medicine.
Representatives from the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids echoed these suggestions as ways to prevent early abuse among children. Marcia Lee Taylor noted that abuse starts in the teen years for most abusers and that “access is the critical issue.” Taylor suggested tracking the number of pills in a prescription bottle or noting when a refill is required earlier than anticipated. She also pointed attendees to www.MedicineAbuseProject.org for safe disposal locations for unused medications.
For seniors, however, safe storage and disposal represent only part of the prescription drug challenge. As Rebecca Burkholder of the National Consumers League noted, “America’s other drug problem” is patient non-adherence, whereby patients don’t take their prescriptions as dictated by their health care providers. Burkholder explained that side effects, forgetfulness or cost could lead seniors to stray from their doctor’s orders. She suggested medication synchronization as one way to keep seniors on track with their medications.