If you are a senior adult, you may think that poison centers and poison prevention are mainly for kids. But seniors are at risk for poisoning, too!
As we age, we often take more and more medicine, whether prescription, over-the-counter, vitamin or herbal. And that means more chances to make mistakes.
Sometimes older adults get upset if they make a mistake because they worry they may be forgetting things. However, people of all ages make mistakes when it comes to taking their medicines.
Calls to America’s 57 poison centers about seniors have steadily increased for the past few years, and many of these calls concern medicines. These tips from the American Association of Poison Control Centers can help senior adults stay poison-safe:
- Keep an up-to-date list of all medicines you take, including prescriptions, over-the-counter products, vitamins and herbals.
- Share your list with your doctors and pharmacists so they can check for drug interactions. Surprisingly, even herbal supplements can interact with a prescription drug, so always check with a doctor before you start taking vitamins or herbal supplements.
- If possible, use the same pharmacy to fill all prescriptions.
- Keep all medicines in their original containers to avoid confusion with types of medicine and dosage.
- Always read the label before taking any medicine, and never try to take it in the dark or without glasses.
- Follow all medicine dosage instructions to avoid taking too much.
- Develop a system for medicine tracking that shows when you took it, such as a check-off list or medicine journal.
- Dispose of all medicines that have expired or are no longer needed to make sure you don’t take the wrong medicine. Ask your pharmacist how to dispose of your medicine safely.
- Never take someone else’s medicine – it might interact with your other medicines.
- Be very cautious when considering ordering medicines over the Internet. It is often impossible to tell if they are coming from another country, and the ingredients may not be what are claimed. This especially applies to supplements that make claims for “miracle cures.” Ask family members or a pharmacist to investigate the site before sending money or taking products obtained online.
- Keep the local poison control center’s toll-free number handy and call 1-800-222-1222 if you have questions or think you made a mistake with your medicine.
– Contributed by Christina DeRienzo, education coordinator, Palmetto Poison Center; Donna Lotzer, poison education coordinator, University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics; and Carissa McBurney, community outreach coordinator, West Virginia Poison Center
The American Association of Poison Control Centers supports the nation’s 57 poison centers in their efforts to prevent and treat poison exposures. Poison centers offer free, private, expert medical advice 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We take calls in more than 150 languages and from the hearing impaired.
For questions about poison or if you think someone has been exposed to a poison, call 1-800-222-1222 to reach your local poison center.