On the latest segment of “Caring for Seniors” Judy and Rich discuss the opioid epidemic and how seniors are getting involved with it. While it may sound surprising, drug abuse is a problem among seniors. Caring for drug addicted seniors can be tough, but Judy suggests some ways we can help them.
Caring for Drug Addicted Seniors
A third of Medicaid recipients were prescribed opioids in 2016. That’s 12 million people that were prescribed pain medicine. 2.7 million of those people abused them. New Hampshire is second only to West Virginia in prescribed opioid death.
We are also 28th in the country in the use of antipsychotic drugs, which isn’t good. This means we may use the drugs inappropriately to keep seniors calm when they don’t need to be drugged. Especially, people with dementia who may have some behavioral problems. When in reality something could be wrong with the environment or they are bored and not upset or violent.
Why This Is Happening
The National Safety Council found through a survey in 2016, that 99 percent of doctors prescribed opioids over the dosage limit of three days described by the CDC. So now, we have people who have more medication than they need and either they or a family member now has access to abuse it.
We also need to understand that the dependency happens within days of using it. We have seen an increase of five times the regular amount of people over 65 arriving in hospitals due to an opioid overdose.
There was heavy marketing towards doctors in the 90s for prescribing more pain medication. The thought is that you won’t get addicted if you have serious pain. Seniors also take longer to process the drugs so they spent more time in their systems and the brains become more sensitive to the drugs.
Communities are also a little eager to hand out pills. All a resident has to do is complain of pain and they’re handed a pill. Instead of that being the automatic response, we should all try to look deeper into what is causing the pain. Same with trouble sleeping, having issues with sleep is a fact of getting older. We shouldn’t go straight to pills. Depression, family conflict, and loneliness can also cause drug abuse.
Check out the whole segment here.