One of the tasks that many family caregivers perform for their aging relatives is organizing medications. You might call in prescription refills, keep a list of medications, and spend time each week sorting pills into weekly organizer boxes. But, how much time do you spend thinking about how your aging relative’s medications are stored? Are you keeping them in a safe place where they won’t be adversely affected by the environment? Are they also safe from accidental ingestion or theft? As a caregiver, it’s important that you know some basics about how to properly store medications to keep them safe and effective.
Where to Keep Medications
A lot of people keep their medications in the bathroom. After all, that’s where the medicine cabinet is. However, a medicine cabinet isn’t actually the best place to keep medications. The heat and steam of the shower can cause damage to medications and cause them to go bad before they should. Instead, medications should be kept in cool, dry areas.
If you’re keeping medications in a kitchen cabinet, that’s probably a good place. But, make sure it’s a cabinet that is not near the stove or oven where heat can harm them. Also, they should not be kept near the sink where moisture can cause them to break down.
Some other tips for safe medication storage are:
- If the older adult is at risk for taking incorrect dosages because of cognitive problems, keep the cabinet where medicines are kept locked.
- Store medicines in their original containers with the label intact.
- Remove the cotton ball from the medication bottle. It causes moisture to collect in the bottle, damaging the medication.
- Pay attention to storage instructions provided by the pharmacist. Some medications must be kept refrigerated.
Special Information About Insulin
If you are a caregiver to a senior with diabetes, there are some unique information concerning insulin you should know, such as:
- Insulin should not be kept in places that get very hot or very cold.
- Keep only the current bottle being used out. Store the remaining bottles in the refrigerator.
- Insulin stored at room temperature will stay good for approximately one month.
- Always check the expiration date before using insulin. Don’t use it if it is expired.
- Examine the liquid before using it. Throw away the insulin if there are particles floating in it or if its color has changed.
One final note, if the person for whom you are a caregiver is taking certain drugs that people may abuse, such as opioids, it is very important that you keep them in a safe place where they cannot be stolen. You may not think that you know anyone with a drug problem, but it can be difficult to spot. To be on the safe side, keep such medications locked up.
If you or an aging loved one are considering caregivers in Loudoun, VA, please contact the caring staff at Assisting Hands today. (703) 982-0050.
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