Expiration Purge

The start of a new year is the perfect time to purge expired and unnecessary items that accumulate throughout the year. Particularly for seniors, keeping expired items like medications and food in the home can compromise safety. If not knowing where to dispose of meds, or even where to start is an obstacle, Sound Options is breaking down the process into manageable pieces and providing educational resources for purging medications. Welcome in the New Year by doing an expiration sweep of your home or your loved one’s home.

Purging Guidelines

Let the three R’s guide the process: REPLENISH, REPLACE, REMOVE.

1. Replenish: Stock up important items that are running low. Make sure your first aide, and emergency supplies of nonperishable food and water are also replenished and ready for the New Year.

2. Replace:  Items that are essential but broken or not working should be replaced or repaired allowing only the important items you use to stay.   

3. Remove: Dispose of items that are expired giving special attention to anything you ingest like food or medications.

Here is our three step plan to kick start your expiration sweep:

Food: Go through the fridge, pantry, and cupboards looking for items with expiration dates in the past particularly for items that last a long time like condiments, spices, or canned items. If it’s expired, get rid of it! Make a list as you purge to replace essential items.

Batteries: If it has batteries, replace them. Smoke detectors, remotes, radios, clocks, or other wireless devices should have their batteries replaced regularly. Not only will items stop working when the batteries die, if they go unused for long periods of time, items can actually contain dangerous corroded batteries.

Medications: Expired medications, whether they are over the counter or prescriptions can be dangerous to keep in the home. Look for medications in pill, cream, or liquid forms that are expired. Though they may be stored separately, don’t forget to look for expired pet food and medications as well.

It is incredibly important to properly dispose of expired medications to maintain safety in the home. Prescription drugs are frequently stolen from garbage cans, exposing sensitive personal information and drugs. Here in Washington State, two businesses, Group Health Cooperative and Bartell Drugs, came forward and volunteered to participate in a pilot program, with a coalition of local and state governments and non-profits, to collect and properly dispose of unused prescription drugs. This program has collected and safely disposed of more than 25,000 pounds of unwanted household medicines since October 2006. They offer these guidelines:

  1. Gather your unwanted medications. See YES/NO list to find out which items can be returned. Leave items in their original containers. Mark out any personal information if you wish.
  2. Bring medications to a participating pharmacy. See list of locations  to find a participating pharmacy near you.
  3. Deposit medications into the secure bin marked for medication return.

Takebackyourmeds.org is a website that allows you to search for appropriate drop-off locations in your local area by zip code.

If you are concerned your loved one may need help with managing medications or other activities of daily living, Sound Options offers an elite team of in-home caregivers and Care Managers to ensure the highest level of safety and quality of life. When it comes to high quality eldercare, you have Sound Options for aging in place in the Puget Sound.

Published on December 18, 2012.