Common Causes of Accidental Poisoning in the Elderly

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When people think about accidental poisoning, they usually think about toddlers getting into things they shouldn’t. However, thousands of elderly adults are accidentally poisoned every year. March is Poison Prevention Awareness Month, so it’s a good opportunity for aging adults and their family caregivers to review some of the most common causes of poisoning in elderly adults.

Causes of Accidental Poisoning in Seniors

The number one cause of accidental poisoning in seniors is related to medication. Elderly adults often take multiple medications each day and it can get confusing for even the most focused person. Seniors can ingest extra doses of medicine due to mixing up dosages, confusing one medicine with another, putting the wrong pills in a travel bottle, and simple forgetfulness. Unintentional drug poisoning can be quite serious in seniors and they have a harder time recovering from the effects due to age.

Another common cause of accidental poisoning in the elderly have to do with mistaking one type of product for another. Examples include ingesting a tube of medicine that is actually a topical ointment or drinking something chemical because it was put in an unlabeled bottle. Still other seniors are accidentally poisoned from misuse of bug spray and bug bombs, ingesting on common products like drinking mouthwash and eye or skin exposure to cleaners.

How Family Caregivers Can Help

Because accidental poisonings are quite common in seniors, family caregivers need to take extra steps to ensure that they are not in a situation where their elderly relatives can get confused. Medicine management is the first step and many family caregivers set out the right pills every day and put the bottles away. A home care assistant can also remind elderly adults to when to take their meds and then keep a written record.

If poor vision is a problem for seniors, family caregivers and home care aides can create easy to read labels for bottles and tubes by writing large letters on stickers. They can also sort and separate medicine and ointment so they don’t get mixed up. Family caregivers can also go through their loved one’s medicines and get rid of anything that has expired.

Good lighting is important for seniors when they are trying to read labels, so caregivers should look at bathroom and kitchen lighting needs as well. When it comes to pest control, family members or professional exterminators should take over.

What To Do If An Elderly Adult is Poisoned

If a family caregiver or home care aide believes that the elderly adult has been poisoned, they must call their state’s poison control hotline immediately. The experts will be able to advise the caller on what to do if a treatment can be done at home or whether further medical assessment is necessary. If the elderly person is not conscious or is having seizures, the family caregiver should call 911.

During Poison Prevention Awareness Month, family caregivers should take the time to put together a comprehensive poison prevention plan for their elderly loved one.

If you or an aging loved one are considering caregivers in Herndon, VA, please contact the caring staff at Assisting Hands today. (703) 982-0050.