How to Dispose of Old Medications


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As medical needs change, many people find themselves with a large amount of medications just sitting around their home. This is especially true for seniors that have constantly changing medication requirements. Because medications cannot just be thrown in the trash can like other garbage, it is important to understand how to safely dispose of them.

  • Disguise the Medication – If you have many pills to dispose of, they can be put in the garbage can with a few simple steps. Try to mix them in with other items such as coffee grounds or other small particles that can disguise the presence of medication. All of the materials should be placed in a closed container such as a sealed coffee can or plastic bag. Always take the medication out of its original container and disguise it as best as possible.
  • Ask your Doctor – The doctor might have input on places that take medications that are no longer needed and properly dispose of them for you. Your doctor might even be able to assist you with the disposal.
  • Don’t Use the Toilet – Years ago it was common to flush medications down the toilet, but this is now suspected to taint the water supply, making it very dangerous to do today.
  • Read Instructions – Some medications come with instructions on specific methods of disposal. If your relative’s medications contain this literature, make sure to read it and pay close attention to the method.

If your senior relative is unsure about how to dispose of their medication, you or the professional from an in-home care agency can help them safely dispose of them.

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