People over age 60 often ask why they should be concerned about poisons or when they should call a poison control center.

Here are some common questions:

Are people over age 60 more susceptible to poisons?

Adults that take multiple medications or have chronic diseases have a higher risk for illness after a poisoning and experience more serious problems than any other age group.

What poison situations are common in older adults?
      Medication mistakes

      Food poisoning

      Inhaling toxic fumes

How can adults reduce their risks of poisoning?

  • Keep a list of all your prescription, over-the-counter and herbal medications in your wallet. Show this at every visit to a physician or pharmacy. Ask if all the medicines are necessary and if they are safe to take together. Make a note to report medications that may be causing new symptoms.
  • Take steps to prevent problems if you are visited by grandchildren or persons with dementia. Store food and drug products away from cleaners and chemicals. Poisoning can occur when chemicals in plastic bottles are the same color as sports drinks. Put medications and non-food items in latched cabinets.
  • Make sure your home fuel-burning heating system is checked each year. Carbon monoxide (CO) is a hazard to anyone, but especially to people with heart disease. CO is produced by fuel-burning appliances. Get your furnace checked each year for proper exhaust. Keep portable generators and charcoal grills in open areas outside your home and away from windows.
  • Create a method for remembering when daily medicines are taken. Some elders use pill-minders to tell at a glance if timed doses were taken. Other seniors prefer placing a check mark on a calendar next to dosages taken. Create a system that works for you.

How does Tennessee Poison Center help older adults?

  • Through the Poison Help hotline (1-800-222-1222). Nurses, pharmacists and physicians with poison management expertise give advice 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Callers find relief in getting answers for their specific concern within minutes. It’s great to be reassured even if the poisoning was just a minor problem. Many seniors call about medication concerns when their pharmacist or physician can’t be reached.
  • Through education. To request free poison prevention information, call Tennessee Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222 or visit the website at

* Reprinted with information compiled by the Florida Poison Information Centers.