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Senior Feedback

Please send your packaging stories and photos of packages you either like or loathe to Hannah Boulton here.  Thank you!

February 4, 2021

Hi Hannah,

I recently had an experience which was eye-opening. Much of what you talk and write about hit home. PACKAGING IS NOT FOR SISSIES! I have to tell you I discovered more about these frustrating packing methods.

In December, I ended up in the hospital with double bacterial pneumonia, not COVID, thankfully. I was there twice for a total of about ten days and I had to deal with all sorts of foods and other supplies being served in packaging I couldn’t open— the tops on the plastic orange juice containers, the desserts, personal supplies. It was funny, until I got home, and no one was there to help me. The hospital ordered several medications from my pharmacy. They did not have easy-open caps. I had trouble twisting one in particular and wondered what I would have to do to get it open, get a hammer?

Thank you for the work you are doing. I will make sure to get the correct caps from now on,

Sue S., Watertown, MA

Haha! I call those things heart attack handles because when you pick them up by the bridge-part, one of the bottles inevitably falls out and gives you a heart attack. But you never know if/when it will happen.. Jay C, VT

Dear Hannah,

I just read your article in the Ledger and I couldn’t agree more.

While my mother was a senior I had to visit frequently just to open medicine containers, water, juice, and any other twist-off or push-down-and turn cover. Don’t even mention shrink wrapped items. Impossible for her.

Now at 82 years old I find out, personally, what she was dealing with.

I admire what you are attempting to do for seniors and poor packaging. It’s not only seniors.

I’ve witnessed my children and grandchildren trying to open new toys, makeup, iPhone, CD and DVD packaging etc. And yes, you need a lot of tools on hand. Very FRUSTRATING.

I think for me and my 84 yr. old husband any amount up to 25 cents would be well worth consumer friendly packaging for ALL.

– Barbara W., Massachusetts

One woman’s collection of her favorite tools used for opening packages resides in her kitchen drawer. Her screwdriver and magnifying glass are elsewhere.  What a comment this is on packaging! – Hannah Boulton

– Photo Credit, L. A. Willson

I was traveling by car when I began to get symptoms of impending intestinal disaster. I had some medication with me but it took possibly 20 minutes to get the package open using teeth and strong finger nails as I did not have other tools available. Fortunately I was able to access the pills before catastrophy ensued and before the pills were reduced to powder by my efforts. Safe packaging is one thing but this was ridiculous.

– MC Ryan, Cape Cod

After having mitral valve repair surgery in New York City, I had a bunch of medications filled at a CVS located in Long Island while I was recuperating. The pills came in push-and-turn caps that, given my condition after open heart surgery, were impossible for me to open. I finally had to break the caps off, which I did using the screw driver tool of my Swiss Army knife to pry the caps until they broke off. However, one time, the pills went all over the floor and I had to crawl around to pick them all up. (I rinsed each one off before taking it.)

– Regards,
Todd L., Kingston, NY

I recently had hand surgery. The physician prescribed Oxycodone. I got it filled, even thought I thought I would need not it, since I have a very high pain tolerance. Later I realized that I would need some. As the pain got worse, I tried to wrestle the package open. I have no regular pharmacy, since I am only 69 and do not need medications.

No one had asked me if I was a senior, but the pharmacy knew the medication was for my hand. I am right handed, and the surgery was on the right hand. I could not use it to push down the top and twist it. I have no neighbors nearby. I ended up stabbing an ice pick into the top in a round circle, and then used a can opener to pry the area between those spots, and then shook out two pills. Happily I did not stab myself.

As a nurse, I know the importance of child proof caps, but it took me 20 minutes to access the medication, leading to increased pain. Should we be training pharmacists to ask older looking adults, if they want senior safe caps? There must be a solution for people with disabilities, arthritis and seniors who have decreased strength.

– Taffy A. Harwich, MA

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