Older adults often take multiple medications to manage medical conditions. Sometimes doctors make changes to treatment plans, which can result in seniors having leftover medicines at home. Unfortunately, many family caregivers are uncertain what to do with medicines their aging relatives are no longer using, so they just leave them in the cupboard. The problem with this is that some medications can be dangerous if they are taken inappropriately or used recreationally. In addition, your older family member may accidentally take an old medication because they’ve confused the bottle with another one. However, it’s important to dispose of mediations correctly to prevent them from being used by others or harming the environment. There are several ways to dispose of medicines, depending on the kind of medicine and availability in the older adult’s community.


Home Health Care in Mobile AL: Dispose of Unused Medications

Home Health Care in Mobile AL: Dispose of Unused Medications


Take-Back Programs

One way to dispose of unused medications is through take-back programs. The United States Drug Enforcement Administration organizes National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day across the country periodically. Caregivers can drop medicines off at designated spots on those days. Some communities have their own take-back programs in place, such as a drop box at the local police station or pharmacy. Take-back programs are an easy and convenient way for caregivers to dispose of medicines since it relieves the responsibility of having to figure out the best way to dispose of each drug.


At-Home Disposal

When a take-back program isn’t available, it is possible to dispose of medications at home in one of two ways. The first way is by flushing the unused medication down the toilet. This method is recommended for medicines that can be harmful to others, so they should be immediately disposed of. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has a list of flushable medications available on their website. Caregivers can search for the list by visiting fda.gov and searching the “medicine flush list.”

If the medication is not on the flush list, caregivers can dispose of them in the trash. Medications should be removed from the original bottle and mixed with something that makes them undesirable to those seeking to use them recreationally or sell them. It can also help to protect children and pets from eating them. You can mix them with coffee grounds, cat litter, or dirt. Then, place the mixture in a sealable container and throw it in the garbage.

When disposing of your aging relative’s unused medications at home, it’s important to make personal information on the prescription bottle is scratched out to make it unreadable. This helps to prevent fraud and the potential for identity theft.


If you or someone you know needs Home Health Care in Mobile, AL, please contact the friendly caregivers at  Hughes Home Care. We provide quality and affordable care for your elderly loved ones in our community. Call Us Today 251-517-9901.  Serving Mobile & Baldwin County.