Senior Adults

Facts About Medication Poisonings In Senior Adults

Adults over age 60:

  • Consume 1/4 of all prescription medicines and more than 1/3 of all over the counter drug products.
  • Senior adult medication exposures account for 45% of all poisonings and 41% of all poison related deaths in the U.S.
  • 83% take at least one prescription medicine.
  • 50% take three or more prescription medicines.
  • One in 10 older adults have experienced a poisoning in the home, most frequently from taking the wrong type of medication.

Why are seniors at high risk for medication poisoning?

  • 50% have no regular routine for taking their medications.
  • Seniors take multiple medications with potential interactions.
  • Seniors are more likely to have vision problems which could affect their ability to read labels.
  • Seniors have an increased sensitivity to the effects of drug.

Seniors with medications affect grandchildren:

  • 65% of seniors 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.

senior getting in medicine cabinetHow the Poison Center can help:

  • The toll-free hotline, 1-800-222-1222, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for emergencies or questions.
  • 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 more.
  • 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, 1-800-222-1222.
  • 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.