Of course, I’m stating the obvious. Just about every pharmaceutical advertisement on the planet includes a list of potential side effects. Movies, sitcoms, books and news reports are frequently flooded with stories, real and based on reality, of deaths, illnesses and hospitalizations related to medication mishaps.
What may not be as common — though the dangers are real and the risks are great — is the concept of safe and secure medication storage.
Stop for a moment and ponder this: where do you keep your prescription medicines? Vitamins? Supplements?
If you leave them out on the kitchen table, in the bathroom, or on your desk where you keep bills and incoming mail, do you move them when your grandchildren visit? If you are a caregiver for a person with Alzheimer’s, dementia, or some other type of cognitive impairment, do you make sure that all household medications are in a safe, inaccessible place?
Statistics show that grandparents are not as careful as they should be in this regard: A national poll on Children’s Health from the University of Michigan C. S. Mott Children’s Hospital states that “nearly 1 of every 4 grandparents store prescription medicines in easy-access ways” (get the full story here). Another startling statistic (from upandaway.org): “more than 60,000 young children end up in emergency departments every year because they got into medicines while their parent or caregiver was not looking.”
Unfortunately, it is not just the naive and curious little ones that we should be protecting here. These days, teens and young adults are abusing prescription medications with alarming frequency. Your grandchild may not be abusing prescription drugs, but he may be supplying them to friends. No one wants to think of their grandsons and granddaughters in this way, but removing the temptation altogether is a better move than assuming “that’s just not something she would do.”
Instead of panicking, overreacting, being suspicious of your grandkid’s every move, or locking your medications in the attic where even you can’t find them, consider the practical tips and tools shared at upandaway.org. Up and Away and Out of Sight is an educational program that is part of The PROTECT Initiative, in partnership with the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) and the Consumer Healthcare Products Association Educational Foundation. The site is full of helpful information and reminders to keep you, and everyone who visits your home (there is even a section on politely asking guests if they are carrying any medications), out of the headlines and ERs.