Did you know that National Clean Out Your Medicine Cabinet Day is April 21st? This day has been set aside to raise awareness and effectively rid homes of unused or expired prescription and over-the-counter medications. In addition, this day educates everyone about the proper disposal of medicines. We have some safety tips below to help you as you begin to clean out your medicine cabinet.
- Start your clean out day by checking the labels on all your medications and your over-the-counter medicines. Do not forget to check creams, liquids or chewable tablets. Be sure to check all the places you may have your medicines, for example, in your medicine cabinet, nightstand, or kitchen cabinets. As you check your drugs make sure that none of them look unusual, smell funny or bad, or are leaking or discolored. These are all red flags and any drugs that you even suspect are bad should be discarded.
- As you check on your drugs, unfortunately, you may need to be aware that any of your drugs could potentially be misused or abused by family members, friends, or visitors. You may think your medicine cabinet is safe because it does not contain any opioids, but opioids are not the only problem. Medications like ADHD medicine, sleeping pills, and antidepressants can be misused and cause poisoning that may be fatal. Therefore, it is important to keep your medicine cabinet protected, and dispose of medications past their prime.
- Once you have identified the medications that you need to be rid of, what do you do? Did you know that it is important for you to know the proper disposal of unused or expired medicines, both for your health and for the environment? Remember to be aware that medications left in your medicine cabinet past the expiration date or their shelf life, or disposed of improperly, can be a danger to you. If you need to dispose of any medications, there are proper ways and laws to do so. Medications thrown into the garbage leak into the soil at landfills and contaminate the area. Flushing medications down the toilet should never be an option because if you flush medications they may become part of the water supply which can have ill effects on drinking water, and on aquatic life in your area. In fact, in the worst case scenario it can even get into the bloodstream of fish and shellfish, causing even more harm to humans and other sea animals who consume these creatures.
- Interestingly enough there are also two National Prescription Drug Take Back Days coming up. One is shortly after National Clean Out Your Medicine Cabinet Day on the last Saturday in April. The second National Drug Takeback Day is in October. Many civic organizations, in addition to medical offices and pharmacies, may have bins in public areas where you can dispose of your unused or expired medications by placing them directly into these bins. The authorities will then dispose of them properly.
We know you may have questions. The Academy of Florida Elder Law Attorneys (AFELA) is the pre-eminent organization of Florida elder law attorneys providing advocacy, education and action on behalf of seniors and people with disabilities. We encourage you to contact one of our attorneys in your area using our Find a Lawyer website for assistance on what to do next if your aging parent has developed memory loss.