Having grandparents around to help with daycare and babysitting is truly wonderful, but if you’re anything like me, you drop your kids off with a lengthy list of dos and don’ts to follow. However, one danger you may not have considered is that of grandparents’ medication, and whether or not it is firmly locked away from curious little hands.
According to the National Poll of Healthy Aging, not all grandparents are taking care to safely store their medication, leaving their grandkids wide open to the very real possibility of accidental ingestion.
The poll, carried out by the U-M Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation with support from AARP and Michigan Medicine, surveyed 2,000 adults between the ages of 50 and 80 years about caring for their grandchildren and the storage of medications at home or when visiting grandkids. More than half identified as being a grandparent, with about 93 percent saying they had grandchildren under the age of 18.
The results showed that 84 percent of grandparents keep their medicines in the same place when grandchildren come to visit. And when grandparents visit grandkids, 72 percent said that they kept them in a purse or bag and 7 percent left them on the counter. Less than one in ten said that they locked their medication away when visiting their grandchildren.
Choose containers carefully
While most medication comes in childproof containers, many grandparents transfer them to other more easy-to-open containers, which is great for them, but not so good for kids. In fact, one in four grandparents reported storing prescription medications in containers that were easy to open, increasing risk of grandchildren getting their hands on them, and even worse ingesting them.
“If you put your pills into day-of-the-week pill sorters so you can remember whether you took your medicine each day, that’s great – but keep that sorter out of the reach of little ones,” poll director Preeti Malani reported to Science Daily. “Make sure you explain to them, and their parents or older siblings, that it’s important to stay away from your medicines — that those pills are for you and you alone.”
Preeti also says that grandparents should have the number for the poisons helpline readily available, memorised or stored on their phone.
Taking care of business
The results of the poll clearly show that a lot more care can be taken when grandparents look after their precious grandchildren. “Ensuring that medications are stored securely and locked away can help prevent both accidental ingestion and intentional misuse,” states the report.
“We know that grandparents love spending time with their grandkids. A few simple steps can keep those little ones safe when you’re together,” says Alison Bryant, senior vice president of research for AARP in Science Daily. “Don’t leave medications in your purse or on a kitchen counter – it’s best to keep them locked up. It’s also a good idea to go through your medications every few months and safely discard any that are expired or no longer needed.”
Now I have another instruction to add to the grandparent ‘list’, along with ‘hide the sewing needles’ and ‘lock away the cleaning products’ – and much like all warnings, this one that could definitely save a life.
Poisons Information Centre Hotline: 13 11 26