As we age, we sometimes suffer from various maladies, some fairly benign, some more serious, that require us to take medications.
Those could range from simple over the counter anti-inflammatory drugs to prescription medications, everything from antibiotics to narcotics.
If you are a grandparent, or you have people or pets spending time in your home, there's reason to think about how safely you store such products, and who has access to them.
For the average adult, a couple of naproxen tablets (also known as Aleve, Naprosyn, Anaprox, or Naprelan) may help to render a headache gone, but if a dog ingests even one half of one such tablet they could go in to kidney failure and die. If a small child takes several, gastrointestinal bleeding could be the result.
A dog can scramble to grab a pill off the floor as quickly as he can to grab a piece of chicken falling from a counter. You can take your pills in the bathroom, with the door shut and your pet in another room, thus keeping any accidentally dropped tablets out of the pet's reach.
Accidental poisonings are preventable. You can store pills in a locking cabinet out of the reach of little hands that might make a mistake and think a brightly colored pill is candy.
You can opt for child-safe caps on your medications that will keep grandchildren safe when they visit you, even if you have arthritis in your hands and have difficulty opening caps. There are some handy gadgets that make it possible, even for people with arthritis, to get the caps open and not have to use ones that aren't safe for kids.
The "DogGoneOpener" (http://www.purrfectopener.com/doggone-opener.html) is shaped like a dog. You can open medicine blister packaging with the ears or tail, push single-dose pills into the template on the back, open aspirin with the angled head, open prescription bottles with the gripping pad, pull cotton out with the tail, and even open pull tabs.
Arthritissupplies.com has the Dycem bottle opener for those pesky cough syrup bottle caps that require people to push down at the same time they turn the cap: (http://www.arthritissupplies.com/dycem-bottle-opener.html)
Speaking of cough syrup, there is one situation no grandparent wants to think about, but in today's world, we must.
Kids experiment. They may be tempted to take medications to get high, or to get money to purchase items their parents have told them they cannot have.
Hopefully, this won't happen to you, but it's best to be aware of the types of medications that young people might seek, and keep those in a tamper-proof safe location. Also, once you have finished using a particular medication, dispose of the remainder and don't hang on to them.
Self-diagnosis and self-medication can be just as dangerous for you as misuse and accidental poisoning can be for children, and removing the temptation from impressionable teens is worth the inconvenience of going back to the doctor in the event you think you may need a prescription filled again.
In one study by Partnership for a Drug Free American, one out of ten teenagers has used an over-the-counter medication to get high.
Hopefully, it won't be one of your grandchildren that gains access to such products through your medicine chest.
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Anne Springer is the public relations director of SeniorCare Inc., Cape Ann's local area agency on aging. To reach SeniorCare, call 978-281-1750.