Spotlight on Innovations and Achievements: Arlington Agency on Aging

Learn how this agency worked with community partners to develop a program in which older adults receive a range of education, assistance and resources focused on ways to properly dispose of unused and expired medications through home disposal kits, medication safety education and connections to community resources and supports.

We're proud to highlight the award-winning work of the 2020 winners of n4a's Aging Innovations and Achievement Awards in this weekly spotlight feature. This week, we are focusing on Arlington Agency on Aging's Medication Safety for Older Arlingtonians program. The agency was a 2020 Aging Achievement Award winner in the Healthy Aging category. The 2020 AIA Awards were made possible thanks to the support of Centene.
Older adults are more likely to be prescribed multiple medications and many lack proper information about when or how to safely discard prescription opioids and expired or unused medications. To raise awareness among older adults on how to safely discard medications, the Arlington Agency on Aging partnered with the Addiction and Recovery Initiative, a community stakeholders' group that combats the opioid epidemic, to distribute drug deactivation kits and provide information on the risks of flushing or trashing medications to as many older adults as possible.
Kits were distributed at an annual emergency preparedness event via the AAA's Virginia Insurance and Counseling Assistance Program (VICAP, a SHIP) during Medicare open enrollment and through providers making home-delivered meal deliveries. Since the program began, 150 home-delivered meals participants received kits, more than 200 VICAP clients were engaged during Open Enrollment and nearly 75 individuals have attended the emergency preparedness event.
“The ultimate benefit of these partnerships is that our community is safer as a greater number of older adults and community members are informed about how to safely discard medications. These are partnerships that we hope to continue well into the future,” said Rachel Coates, Director, Arlington Agency on Aging.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the agency offered to mail or deliver medication safety disposal kits. The VICAP counseling sessions have shifted to a virtual setting.
To learn more about the Medication Safety for Older Arlingtonians program and how your agency can replicate this program in your community, contact Rachel Coates,

For more information about the 2020 winners, see the press release and read the book of winners! To read about past winners and find other best practices for your agency to consider, visit our Best Practices Clearinghouse page.



USAging Fact: Learn about your peers’ work—and how it can fit into your agency’s goals! The AIA Awards recognizes successful and innovative programs that USAging members have developed to serve older adults. Get inspiration from our 2024 winners!