updated 6/15/2011 12:17:25 PM ET 2011-06-15T16:17:25

ALEXANDRIA, Va., June 15, 2011 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- One of the best gifts you can give your father this Father's Day is to talk to him about medicine safety, according to the health professionals at America's 57 poison control centers.

Data from the American Association of Poison Centers show that adults 40 and older make up 16 percent of poisoning exposure calls to the nation's poison center; however, they account for 56 percent of deaths from poisoning.

"The poison control centers are not just for children," said Kirk Hughes, certified specialist in poison information with the Hennepin Regional Poison Center in Minnesota. "Older adults often call us because they took too much of their own medicine, took someone else's medicine, swallowed the wrong dose, or are concerned about a drug interaction."

Encourage your father (and mother) to follow these medication safety tips:

  • Know about each medicine you take (name, color, markings, dosage, etc.).
  • Read the label to make sure you are taking the right dose.
  • Follow the instructions to take your medicine the right way. Some medicines interact with food or alcohol, and some should not be taken with other medications.
  • Never take someone else's medicine.
  • Put on your glasses and turn on the lights before taking medicine, especially at night.
  • Keep a list of all your medications and share the list with your doctor at each visit.
  • If more than one doctor prescribes medicine for you, talk to each doctor and your pharmacist so they can check for drug interactions.
  • Talk to your doctor before you take a natural or herbal supplement.

The following are examples of actual calls to poison control centers:

  • An older man thought he was putting eye drops into his eye, but realized too late that it was actually glue. It was dark, and he was not wearing his glasses.
  • An elderly couple had matching pill dispensers. When his wife was away, the 74-year-old gentleman was confused as to which dispenser was his, and he took his wife's medicine by mistake.
  • A 54-year-old man with a heart condition was supposed to take five prednisone for a bout with poison ivy. The prednisone pills look like his heart medication. He accidentally took five heart medication pills.

"Sometimes older people are upset if they make a mistake with their medicine because they worry they may be forgetting things," Hughes said. "However, people of all ages make mistakes when it comes to taking their medicine. We all should handle our medications carefully."

The Northern New England Poison Center has a booklet that provides information about managing medications. "Medication: What You Need to Know" can be downloaded at www.mainehealth.org/mmc_body.cfm?id=3079 .

"It's important to have the poison center number handy in case something happens," Hughes said. "Program it into your mom's and dad's cell phones and post it by their home telephone. Remind them to call 1-800-222-1222 right away if they take medicine incorrectly and can't reach their doctor or pharmacist. Tell them not to wait for symptoms to appear."

For questions about medication safety or poison control centers, the media may call Loreeta Canton, communications manager, American Association of Poison Control Centers, at 703-894-1863.

About the American Association of Poison Control Centers:

The American Association of Poison Control Centers supports the nation's 57 poison centers in their efforts to treat and prevent poisoning. Poison centers offer free, private, expert medical advice 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

If you have questions about poisons, or you believe you've been exposed to something that could be bad for you, call your poison center at 1-800-222-1222.

For More Information, Contact:

Loreeta Canton, communications manager

canton@aapcc.org or 703-894-1863

This information was brought to you by Cision http://www.cisionwire.com

The following files are available for download:

wkr0001.pdf PDF

© Copyright 2012, GlobeNewswire, Inc. All Rights Reserved

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