When I was young, my grandparents didn’t take a lot of medication. In fact, I don’t think they took anything at all, except for the occasional aspirin. That has changed over the last few decades. Grandma and grandpa are likely to be on dozens of medications for a variety of problems.
Why is this a threat? Unless stored under lock and key, any medication found by a child is a threat. Even if child proof caps are on the bottles, most kids can get around them. At grandma’s house, they aren’t likely to *be* in childproof caps, because they can be hard to open.
What kind of pills are we talking about? While the initial answer is “it doesn’t matter,” it can. Older adults take heavy duty painkillers, medications for heart disease, blood pressure, cholesterol, COPD, kidney disease…and the list goes on. The reason knowing what drugs are there is so that the doctors in the ER will know what to do if a child takes one or more.
Accident or Intention? It’s easy to think that poisoning cases are all accidents, but older kids might take the medications on purpose. If it has a chance to get them high, they could be at risk. Many older adults take a number of class 2 narcotics, and it is becoming a problem.
What to tell grandma: Most grandparents will understand a request to keep medications literally out of reach of children. No one wants to see a child ill or dead. If they won’t or can’t follow through, it becomes the parents’ responsibility. You will need to know where the drugs are kept and what they are.
Where to look: Our elder is in the “can’t” category. When we were preparing her home so she could return from a board and care facility, we knew we had to do a search to find her hiding places. We found pills in drawers, under the bed, in a makeup bag and in almost every room in the house. Why they were there we can only speculate. If grandma or grandpa has dementia, you may need to do a similar search…both for your child’s sake and their own.
Tips to prevent poisoning: Education is vital to preventing poisoning. Talk to the grandparents about pill storage. Talk to your children as well. Never tell a child that a medication is candy, this only encourages poisoning.
There are “no” and “Mr. Yucky” symbols that are used on household chemicals. If they are small enough, these could be put on pill bottles to discourage use. It’s important not to cover up the name of the medication or dosing instructions, so it may be necessary to make them at home.
There are websites that tell kids how to make or what to take to get high. Even if your children are in their teens, monitoring their web usage is still important. If you find a suspect site, block it from use and sit down and talk to your children about what these things can do. Most affect the central nervous system and could be a deadly high.
Poisoning is becoming more and more of a problem, particularly as baby boomers reach their senior years. Find out what you need to do to keep your children safe at grandma’s house.