Older Adults

Facts about Medication Poisonings in Older Adults

Adults over age 65:

  • consume the majority of medications
  • experience the majority of all reported reactions to drugs
  • experience more hospital admissions due to medication-related problems than any other age group

Why are older adults at high risk for medication poisoning?

  • 50% have no regular routine for taking their medications
  • older adults take multiple medications with potential interactions
  • older adults are more likely to have vision problems
  • increased sensitivity to effects of drugs

Older adults with medications affect grandchildren:

  • 65% of older adults choose non-child-resistant closures on medicine bottles
  • up to 36% of poisonings in children take place in the grandparents’ home
  • up to 20% of poisonings in children involve a grandparents’ medication.

How the Poison Center can help:

  • toll-free hotline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for emergencies or questions
  • identification of unknown pills
  • information about medication reactions
  • information about over-the-counter or herbal diet supplements
  • free brochures and phone stickers are available on topics such as poison-proofing the home, first aid, poisonous plants, poisonous critters and substances of abuse
  • free educational programs to all age groups

How to prevent poisoning:

  • be prepared for emergencies by posting a telephone sticker with the poison hotline number
  • develop a system that shows if medications were taken on time
  • medications kept in pill-minders should be locked up, away from children
  • before taking dietary supplements or herbal products, consult a physician or pharmacist