Poison control is probably something you considered when small children were roaming your home for whatever reason. But did you know that seniors need to be aware of poisons too? Whether you reside at home or live in an assisted living community, here's what you should know about poison and what to do if you or someone else is accidentally poisoned.
Not all substances that are dangerous are marked as such. And not all things that can poison you are necessarily dangerous in small doses. In fact, the number one reason older adults call the poison control center is due to mistakes with a medication dosage. Heart meds tend to be a common culprit, but sleeping pills, anxiety medication and pain killers are all potentially poisonous in the wrong doses too.
Another common reason seniors call poison control centers is that they use the wrong product when they're in a hurry or simply tired or confused. For example, there have been cases of people brushing their teeth with a cream medication or ointment.
Some poisons do come with warnings, but seniors might not realize they are overexposed. If you're working with household cleaners or paint in a closed room, you can poison yourself by inhaling the fumes. And spilling certain chemicals on your skin can cause an issue.
In some cases, the environment itself might be a cause of poison concern. Heating systems that emit too much carbon dioxide or mold growing in a home can cause dangerous symptoms, for example.
The residents of Bethesda Gardens in Fort Worth have some additional peace of mind when it comes to poison risks. The grounds and buildings are well-maintained to keep environmental issues at bay, and cleaning is done by experienced staff who are careful about not exposing any resident to harmful chemicals. You can also take advantage of services such as medication management to help safely manage your prescriptions.
But that doesn't take the burden of care entirely off anyone's shoulders, and seniors who haven't yet discovered the relaxing but vibrant lifestyle of an assisted living community must handle some of these issue for themselves. Here are some tips for reducing your risks of exposure to poisons no matter where you live.
Label all containers. Reusing jars and bottles can be a great way to save money and help the environment, but if you forget what's in those containers, you run the risk of poisoning yourself. Mark every container clearly and check the labels before you use them.
Store things separately. Reduce the risk that you reach for the soap or shampoo and grab something dangerous instead by keeping things in specific locations. Store cleaning supplies away from your cosmetics, and keep your medications in a different area. The same is true of any chemicals you might use for hobbies.
Turn on the lights. Simply turning on the lights when you take your medications or reach for a personal hygiene product can ensure you grab the right thing. If you wear glasses, take a second to put them on so you can see all labels clearly.
Follow the instructions. Medications, household chemicals and even cosmetics aren't all made to mix. Read and follow all the directions when mixing or using substances to ensure you don't concoct a dangerous mixture or over expose yourself to a chemical.
Stop and ask if you have any concerns. It really is a better safe-than-sorry issue, and in most cases, you can wait before using the item at hand. Ask the staff at Bethesda Gardens to help you read and understand a label if you have concerns, or call the manufacturer if you're not sure whether something can be mixed with another substance. For medication concerns, reach out to your pharmacy or health care provider.
Residents at Bethesda Gardens should alert the staff for assistance. In any location, you can call the poison control center for more information and advice about what actions to take next. The poison control number in the United States is 1-800-222-1222.
You can also access Poison Control online via webPoisonControl.org. The website offers several useful tools, including an interactive poison control guide and a pill identifier that might help you know if you took the wrong medication. At the website, you can also find links for downloading poison control apps on your phone so you can carry all this knowledge with you wherever you go.
According to Poison Control, if someone is in immediate dire distress because of a potential poisoning, you should call 911. That includes if the person has collapsed, can't breathe, is experiencing trouble swallowing or is potentially having a seizure.
Prevention goes a long way, and residents at Bethesda Gardens benefit from a safe, secure environment. But it's always a good idea to be prepared should something happen, and knowledge is one of the best preparation tools.