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It’s not uncommon for medication to go unused, especially when a dose changes or the medicine is only prescribed temporarily. This creates clutter and increases the chances of confusing medications your older adult should be taking with those that are expired or no longer needed. This guide explains how to safely dispose of or donate unused medicine, protect your older adult’s identity, and donate medical supplies.

Part 1 of 4 - Medication disposal do’s and don’ts

Don’t just throw it out or flush it.

It might seem like throwing medicine out, pouring it down the drain, or flushing it down the toilet is a fine idea, but it isn’t recommended for most drugs. Those methods can lead to toxic contamination of the environment and negatively impact aquatic species, groundwater, and more. In fact, animals or even people who potentially go through your trash can consume medicines that have been thrown out and get sick.

The safest and most recommended way to get rid of medicine is through a drug take back program. The National Drug Enforcement Administration office holds two national drug take back days a year – find out about dates and locations here.

Many pharmacies may also have drug drop-off bins where you can simply discard old, unused and unwanted prescriptions throughout the year. The DEA has a national site locator tool you can use to enter your zip code and find a drop-off location near you.

If you can’t get to a disposal location If you must throw out unused medicine, first read the disposal instructions that came with the medicine itself.

If you don’t have the instructions, follow these steps to make sure that the medicines have less of a chance of being consumed by other people or animals.

For pills, capsules, and tablets:

  • Do not crush, but place the medication a resealable plastic bag with a little dish soap and water and shake it up. Let it sit until the medicine is disintegrated.

  • Add a substance that will help absorb the contents of the bag, like kitty litter, dirt, or coffee grounds.

  • Re-seal it and throw in the trash.

You can do the same thing for liquid and gel medications too – simply pour into a resealable bag with a little dish soap and an absorbing substance and put in the trash. Note: There are some medicines the Federal Drug Administration recommends flushing if there are no take-back options available to you – click here for a list.

Original article on Caring .com

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