Easy Options to Dispose of Medications Safely

Woman Checking Information on Her Medicine
Seniors may experience frequent changes to medication regimens, creating the need to identify a safe method to dispose of medications.

With so many senior loved ones taking multiple prescriptions, and with physicians changing and adding medications and dosages to find the ideal combination, it’s critical to understand how to dispose of medications that are no longer needed or have expired. Below are several options available:

  1. Check labels. The medication’s label or informational literature might provide guidance on how to properly dispose of the drug. You can also ask the pharmacist for suggestions.
  2. Participate in National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. This is the recommended way to properly get rid of unwanted medications, and it is held yearly in locations throughout the country by the U.S. Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration. Discover the venue closest to you and also the next date for the local event here.
  3. Use care prior to flushing prescriptions down the toilet. Flushing medications down the toilet is generally not advised, but there are certain exceptions, outlined in the FDA’s Flush List here. Medications currently deemed acceptable to flush include:
    • Acetaminophen
    • Benzhydrocodone
    • Buprenorphine
    • Diazepam
    • Fentanyl
    • Hydrocodone
    • Hydromorphone
    • Meperidine
    • Methadone
    • Methylphenidate
    • Morphine
    • Oxycodone
    • Oxymorphone
    • Sodium Oxybate
    • Tapentadol
  1. Conceal when discarding. Many medications can be discarded with normal trash if precautions are taken to prevent animals from inadvertently eating them or from someone seeking drugs to find them. The FDA suggests mixing the medications with an undesirable substance – such as kitty litter or coffee grounds – and then putting in a sealed plastic bag before adding to your household garbage bag.
  2. Remove identifying information. Scratch out and/or shred any personal information to conceal the individual’s identity, including the prescription number. Doing so will help prevent an unauthorized person from finding the pill container and refilling the prescription without the patient’s consent.

For assistance with medications, including medication reminders to ensure older adults take prescription medications as instructed by the physician, reach out to the aging care experts at Home Sweet Home In-Home Care. Our professional care team is available to assist with aging care needs at home to increase overall wellbeing for senior loved ones, such as:

  • Assistance with hygiene and personal care needs
  • Meal planning and preparation
  • Light housekeeping
  • Companionship to engage in conversations and enriching activities
  • Transportation and accompaniment to medical appointments and outings
  • Running errands, including picking up groceries and prescriptions
  • And more

Contact us to discuss challenges a loved one is facing and to request a complimentary in-home consultation to identify solutions. Home Sweet Home In-Home Care is a leading provider of home health care in Battle Creek, MI and other Michigan communities. For a full list of the communities we serve, please visit our Locations page.

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