When it comes to certain stereotypical groups of people, it can sometimes be difficult not to have a preconceived notion of their traits. As an example, what ideas immediately come to mind when you hear “drug addict”? A young adult helpless to cope with daily life without a fix, possibly turning to a life of crime to finance his or her addiction?
If that’s so, these drug abuse facts might surprise you. Today, seniors are breaking the mold of what a drug addict looks like, unknowingly struggling with really serious addiction concerns – namely, to opioids. Although opioids are typically prescribed for only short-term pain relief, longer term usage of the drugs can result in addiction. However, the American Geriatric Society updated its guidelines in 2009 to highly recommend their use in older adults, who, they reasoned, are less likely to become addicted.
Dr. Mel Pohl, of the Las Vegas Recovery Center, however, begs to differ. “There’s no factual, scientific basis for that. The drug takes over in the brain. It doesn’t matter how old the brain is,” he explains.
With as many as 15% of patients receiving an opioid prescription upon discharge from the hospital, and nearly half still taking that medication three months later, the chances of becoming addicted are alarming. Opioids themselves could leave older persons tired, groggy, and depressed, and the results of stopping the medicine once dependent could be more serious: queasiness, sweating, muscle aches, and more.
So what’s the remedy? Supplying yourself with knowledge and asking about less dangerous alternatives to opioids for your senior loved ones is a great place to start. However, keep in mind that even over-the-counter pain meds might be hazardous for older people, making it challenging for medical professionals to know the best way to regulate senior pain – balancing risks with the need to eliminate suffering in older patients.
It is essential for all of us, regardless of age, to become knowledgeable about each of our conditions and treatment options, and make well informed decisions in our care – and, to take prescription drugs exactly as prescribed by doctors, for the length of time they are prescribed.
Heaven at Home Senior Care can assist seniors in a number of ways to help avoid opioid dependency. We can provide transportation and accompaniment to doctors’ visits and procedures, pick up prescription medications, and provide medication reminders to make sure older adults are on track with effective medication management. Contact us any time at (866) 381-0500 to discover more ways we can help keep your senior loved one safe and well, right at home.