The older we get, the more health concerns we have, the more doctors we see, and the more medicines we take.

Medication safety cannot be taken for granted. Most adults 65 years and older regularly take at least five different medicines, and most older adults taking prescription medicines are also using over-the-counter medicines, dietary supplements, or both.

We take all of these medicines to stay healthy. But more medicines can mean more potential risks and mistakes. Did you know that medicine mishaps like interactions and side effects cause over 700,000 emergency room visits each year? Because as we age, we typically take more medicines, older adults are twice as likely as others to visit the emergency room for problems with their medicines, and nearly seven times more likely to be hospitalized after an emergency visit! Medication safety can be easily learned to prevent these problems.

Are You Taking Your Medicines Safely?

Here are 5 reminders to help prevent harmful medicine mishaps:


It’s your health. Make a point of discussing ALL your medicines with your doctors and anyone who helps you with your medical care. If you have questions about your medicines like how much to take or why you’re taking it, do not guess!


To reduce the chance that someone gets into your medicine, keep your medicines up, away, and out of sight of children & teens, adult visitors, and pets. To further avoid any mishaps, safely dispose of any unwanted or expired medicine.


Always read and follow the entire medicine label, including on over-the-counter medicines. Make sure you know how much medicine to take, how often to take it, and whether there are certain foods, beverages, or other medicines you should avoid while taking your medicine.


Be prepared by knowing who to call. Save the Poison Help number, 1-800-222-1222, in your phone and display it somewhere visible in your house, like on the refrigerator or close to your landline telephone or computer. Also, keep numbers for all of your doctors and your pharmacy in one place, preferably on an up-to-date list of all of the medicines that you take.


Keep an up-to-date list of all of the medicines that you are taking – including prescription medicine, over-the-counter medicine, and vitamins or supplements – bring the list with you whenever you go to a healthcare professional or drugstore. This is especially important if you take a lot of different medicines.

Request a Medicine Safety Program

America’s Poison Centers developed the “Are you taking your medicines safely” program with a team of professional poisoning prevention educators from poison centers with support from Johnson and Johnson Consumer Inc. This 60-minute conversation-based program is intended for adults 65+living independently without nursing care, and both mentally and physically able to manage their own medicines without assistance. Contact your local poison center to find out more about in-person programming and medicine safety resources.

The “Are you taking your medicine safely” program is sponsored by Johnson and Johnson Consumer Inc.