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Medication Safety and Poison Prevention for Older Adults

Approximately 83 percent of older adults take at least one prescription drug and 50 percent take three or more medications. Older adults are a growing population in our society, so the potential for poisonings among this group will likely rise. Recent studies have shown that between 10 and 20 percent of all unintentional poisonings among young children in the US involve a grandparents’ medication. Most of these poisonings occurred when medicine was left on a table or countertop, on low shelves, or in a purse/pocketbook. To combat the potential poisoning from prescriptions, and other health remedies, and household poisonings, it is important to educate older adults on ways to manage medications and prevent poisonings. Education is a key element in keeping themselves and their loved ones safe.

The goal of this lesson is to teach older adults ways to prevent medicine problems from occurring and highlight poison prevention tips.

For additional info on our education program, contact Sherrie Pace.

Lesson Plan Overview

Learning Objectives

Participants will be able to:

  • Name three reliable sources of medication safety information.
  • Recall at least two questions to ask the health care provider when beginning any new medicine or other health remedy.
  • Name one way to track medicines.
  • Recall two ways to keep themselves, and their loved ones safe from household poisonings.


  • PowerPoint presentation or overhead slides; download as ppt file, or download as pdf file.
  • Magnets and telephone stickers (order form)
  • (Optional) Video: Taking the Mystery out of Managing Your Medicine, runtime: 11:30 (available for loan at the UPCC 1-800-222-1222, or by contacting the National Council on Patient Information and Education).
  • Herbal Products and Prescription Medicine handout included in appendix A.
  • Medicines and You: A Guide for Older Adults booklet (optional). Available for download from the FDA website.
  • Stories/Situations of possible medicine interactions
  • 6 Key Questions handout
  • Chalkboard, whiteboard, or poster board and appropriate writing tool for the Tic Tac Toe game
  • (Optional) prizes for the Tic Tac Toe game

Note: Materials and instructions for each item can be found in the appendices of the full lesson plan.

Content Outline

  1. Introduction
    1. Introduce self
    2. Explain purpose
  2. What is a Poison Center
    1. UPCC Mission Statement
    2. UPCC Staff
  3. Definitions and Statistics
    1. Statistics
    2. Health Remedies
  4. Sources of Information
    1. Possible Sources
    2. Finding Good Sources
  5. Poisonings
    1. Interactions
    2. Herbal Products and Prescription Medicine
    3. Stories/Situations
  6. Questions are the Key
    1. 6 Key Questions
    2. Other ways to get answers
  7. Tracking Medicines
    1. Tracking Methods
    2. Medicine Journal or Diary
    3. Medicines and You
  8. Household Poison Prevention
    1. What is a Poison?
    2. Unintentional Poisonings
    3. Prevention
    4. If a Poisoning Occurs
  9. Video: Taking the Mystery out of Managing Your Medicine (optional)
  10. Testing Our Knowledge
    1. Tic Tac Toe Game
  11. Conclusion
    1. UPCC Hotline Number
    2. Call First to Prevent a Poisoning