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Mind Your Meds – Senior Education for Safe Opioid Use and Disposal

Last fall, Health Quality Innovators Pharmacist, Cindy Warriner, met with Senior Connections, the Capital Area Agency on Aging, in Richmond to strategize and collaborate in developing Medicare beneficiary education related to safe opioid use and disposal. The goal of the program was to engage and empower seniors, volunteers and caregivers. She was able to successfully pilot the program with a foster grandparent group that met monthly, which led to interest from other senior organizations.

HQI now provides beneficiary education on safe opioid use and proper medication disposal in the Richmond community, which is an opioid hotspot. At the end of the program, participants are challenged to act and clean out their medicine cabinets and properly dispose of their old medications. They are also challenged with asking a friend or group to do the same. Self-reported results shared this month showed that 20 of the 28 participants (71.4%) did clean out their medicine cabinet and dispose of old or unused medications properly. Additionally, 13 of the 28 (46.43%) participants said they had another person or group complete the same process. HQI is working with the Virginia Association of Area Agencies on Aging (VAAAA) to spread the word about this successful program to additional hotspots throughout the state by providing training to local pharmacies so they can replicate this activity in each Area Agency on Aging (AAA) region.

Southwest Virginia has also been identified as an opioid hot spot. HQI partnered with District Three (one of the AAA’s in Southwest Virginia) to present the program to four senior centers located in Galax, Hillsville, Chilhowie and Damascus. On April 9 and 10, 2019, Cindy Warriner, led “Mind Your Meds: Safe Opioid Use and Disposal” meetings for seniors. More than 85 seniors attended the program and were able to receive the education. In the following week, participants reported with measure how many completed their “homework” of properly disposing of old medicine and also how many friends did the same. The AAA plans to highlight the success during the April 27 National Prescription Drug Take Back day. AAA leaders plan to use the program and spread the information to an additional eight senior centers in their area.

Since spreading the word about the initiative, there has been interest in the program from Appalachian Agency for Senior Citizens (AASC) in Cedar Bluff and the Local Office on Aging (LOA) in Roanoke.

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