As we enter a new year, taking a fresh start gives us the opportunity to declutter and get organised in our homes – and that includes the medicine cabinet. Chances are, you’ll find some old prescription bottles or maybe some leftover medication that “might come in handy someday”, when in actuality, those medications may have expired and could cause more harm than you realise.
The environment of a person’s home is quite different to a healthcare setting, such as a residential aged care facility, group home or hospital and as such, there needs to be a reasonable and sensible approach to medication management. When ageing in place, it’s important to ensure all medications are within date, and prescriptions up to date. When reviewing your medicine cabinet, here are a few tips to consider:
- Remove any items that have discoloured or smell – this includes any liquids or tablets where the colours have faded, because they may have been exposed to too much light.
- Discard unmarked containers – it is important to keep all medications in its original packaging for easy identification and safety. If it isn’t, get rid of it.
- Check expiry dates – discard any items that have reached their expiration date or are older than one year – particularly prescription medications, as many medications lose their effectiveness when they have expired and may be toxic if ingested. It is advisable to have your medication reviewed every 6-12 months.
- Relocating your medicine cabinet – Medications should be kept in a cool dry place, away from children. Many of us keep our medication in the bathroom cabinet and may not realise that it’s not the ideal place to store medication. With temperature and humidity changes that take place in a bathroom, can lower the effectiveness of your medication. For medication to stay effective until the expiry date, it needs to be stored properly. Storage conditions vary per medication so it’s important to always follow the instructions on the packaging for example, storage below 25°C, in a dark place or in the refrigerator at 4°C. Speak to your pharmacist about how best to store your medication if unsure.
- Exercise caution when throwing out medication – Simply throwing medication into the bin or even worse, flushing them down the toilet, can potentially harm the environment, as well as pose a risk to children and pets if found and ingested. There are safer ways to dispose of unwanted medication and that’s through the RUM Project – Return Unwanted Medicines – a national not-for-profit that offers a free and a convenient service 1 through approved pharmacies. Anyone can return their household medicines to any community pharmacy anytime, for safe collection and disposal.
Medications are classified as a poison and careful consideration needs to be given to the management of them according to relevant legislation and regulation. All aged care providers, including home care providers, are legally required to comply with the Aged Care Quality Standards, which covers the administration and management of medication. At Home Care Assistance, we provide customised care to older Australians so they can live happier, healthier lives at home, including hourly 2 and lifestyle support as part of our service to you. This entails assisting with the day-to-day tasks such as dressing, bathing and grooming, to light housework and travel assistance to appointments.
When it comes to medication, our Care Workers can assist with reminders on when to take any medicines and can refer or have one of our registered nurses review your medication management and recommend appropriate action as a part of your care planning moving forward. At the same token, if a Care Worker notices medications around the home, they will either inform your Home Care Assistance Case Manager and/or encourage you to review your current medications with your GP or pharmacist.
Seniors may become confused with too many medicines in the home, and this can lead to the mismanagement of medication, often requiring hospital care. So, as we step into 2023, get organised and ask your Care Worker for assistance and sort out that medicine cabinet.
Support of an in-home care agency like Home Care Assistance, can bring enormous benefit and comfort to your quality of life while living independently at home. Home Care Assistance has viable solutions when it comes to supporting independent living. For more information, get in touch with a Home Care Assistance near me today.
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As a leading age care provider, Home Care Assistance offers tailored in-home care services for older Australians, enabling them to live happier and healthier lives in the comfort of their own homes.
We offer private and government subsidised Care Packages and have office locations that are a registered NDIS provider. Our Care Workers undergo extensive training in order to deliver unmatched in-home aged care services where people can continue ageing in place. We are proud ambassadors of the My Aged Care government funded aged care program, enabling Australians to successfully navigate the process and gain approval for in-home care support packages. Home Care Assistance offers hourly care, specialised care, Alzheimer’s and Dementia care, hospital to home care, and 24 hour in home care.