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News and articles from the Ohio Department of Aging.

Toolkit helps Ohioans adopt safe medication practices for better health Bookmark

Take, store and dispose of medications safely.

By Ruth Emptage, PharmD, BCGP, Ohio State University College of Pharmacy and member of the Ohio Pharmacists Association

There is much that can be done to keep ourselves and others safe when it comes to medications. The Ohio State University College of Pharmacy, in partnership with The Cardinal Health Foundation through the Generation Rx Initiative, has recently made available useful information for an older adult audience to learn more about “Safe Medication Practices for Better Health.” The toolkit has three main themes.

Learn More!
For more information and resources about medication safety and older adults, visit the Ohio Department of Aging's new Medication Safety webpage.

The first message is to be your own health advocate – you are the most important part of your healthcare team. Take the time to become familiar with the medicine(s) you take. It is important to know what each medication you take is for and what side effects could commonly occur. Certainly, your community pharmacist is a wonderful resource for this information. It is also VERY helpful to maintain an updated, complete medication record. This could be done on paper or via an electronic method. Be sure this record includes all medications: prescription, non-prescription, natural, herbal, as well as any vitamins or supplements. It is also useful to ask your pharmacist if your medications interact with any other medications or foods/drinks that you are consuming. This is the best way to avoid interactions. The last tip is to be alert to new symptoms or health issues and ask yourself if it might be due to a new medication or possibly a change in dose of medication. If there seems to be a connection, be sure to discuss it with your doctor or pharmacist.

The second message is to learn safe medication practices. These practices include only taking medicines as directed by your healthcare professionals. Make any changes in your medication therapy only after talking with your doctor or pharmacist. Do not share or take someone else’s medications, as individuals can respond to the same medication differently. Keep your medications safe. Store in secure locations such as lockboxes, medication safes, or other lockable spaces. Avoid storage places that children or others can easily access, such as drawers, nightstands or kitchen counters or cabinets. Children are curious. Keep your medicines out of reach and out of sight of small children Unfortunately, most people who misuse prescription drugs get them from family or friends. Dispose of medications properly, such as in a local medication drop box or Take Back Day. It might also be appropriate to mix the medication with an undesirable substance such as kitty litter or used coffee grounds, seal up and put in the regular trash. Check the best way to dispose of your specific medication from your pharmacist.

Don't Be the Dealer!
Saturday, Oct. 27, 2018 is the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency's National Rx Take-Back Day! Learn more and find a disposal site near you at

The third message is to know the risks of medication misuse – drug misuse affects us all. Misuse is defined as taking more of a prescription medication than prescribed, taking a prescription medication for a reason different than prescribed or sharing or taking someone else’s prescription medication. Unfortunately, the current opioid epidemic is an example of medication misuse in our country. Help to get the word out about safe medication practice. We can all play a part in spreading the word about safe medication use.

Please go to and look for the Older Adult Toolkit to find useful information for yourself and to share with others in your community! There is a slideshow presentation, Trivia Game, and several other helpful resources to help spread the word to an older adult audience about “Safe Medication Practices for Better Health.”

For more information and resources about medication safety and older adults, visit the Ohio Department of Aging's new Medication Safety webpage.

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