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Homebound seniors: Dispose of meds safely

Golden Living

When older adults take multiple medications for various conditions, it’s easy for medicine cabinets to become cluttered with unused and expired prescriptions and other medications. That can be dangerous if the medications fall into the wrong hands or are disposed of improperly. Medication mix-ups and accidental ingestions also become more likely. U.S. emergency departments report approximately 1.3 million visits a year, along with 350,000 hospital visits for further treatment, with mix-ups and/or accidents as the root cause.

Dutchess County offers many pharmaceutical collection sites and collects hundreds of pounds of medications during the Office for the Aging’s (OFA) Summer Picnic program. It also takes part in the national drug takeback days in April and October.

Homebound seniors may be unable to take advantage of such opportunities and can easily be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of medication. A simple way for homebound older adults to dispose of medications now exists to decrease the risk of accidents.

The OFA is joining the New York State Office for the Aging (NYSOFA) and Office of Addiction Services and Supports (OASAS) to distribute the environmentally-sound Deterra drug deactivation and disposal pouches to homebound older adults in its Home Delivered Meals program this September. The pouches are designed to destroy unwanted and expired medications safely and permanently. The meds are rendered inert, and the pouches may be disposed of in regular household trash.

How Deterra works

Step 1: Tear open a pouch and pour in the unused medication

Step 2: Fill halfway with water

Step 3: Seal, shake well, and toss in the trash

And that’s it. Each Deterra pouch has a recommended capacity printed on it. The Deterra system deactivates organic medications, including opioids, but cannot deactivate inorganic medications like antacids, lithium and iron supplements. Consult your pharmacist for specific disposal instructions to certain meds.

This is a program designed for homebound older adults. Those who can go to one a county disposal site should do so; a list of locations and hours is at www.dutchessny.gov/aging. The next National Prescription Drug Take Back Day is Saturday, Oct. 29.

For details about the OFA Home Delivered Meals program, call 845-486-2555 or email ofa@dutchessny.gov.

Don’t flush old meds

Most medications cannot be flushed, as water treatment facilities struggle to filter out pharmaceuticals. Drugs then wind up in our drinking water and surface water.

Golden Living is prepared by OFA Director Todd N. Tancredi, available at 845-486-2555, ofa@dutchessny.gov or www.dutchessny.gov/aging.

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