Opioid misuse has ravaged many parts of the United States, and Americans of all ages have been affected by this growing epidemic. When covering the opioid crisis, much of the media focuses its attention on substance misuse among young people, like teens and college students. However, people ages 65 and older are particularly prone to the effects of opioids for various reasons.
It can be difficult to recognize opioid misuse among seniors, and they could be grappling with a substance use disorder without anyone knowing about it. To reduce the risk of addiction, family members or caretakers of older Americans can make an effort to help these individuals. Having another person monitor a senior’s medication intake can help older people live longer, healthier lives.
Proper Medication Management for Seniors
Family and friends of people ages 65 or older can do their part to help their loved one avoid misusing prescription drugs.
Older Americans may not know what to ask a physician who intends to prescribe to them prescription opioids. Seniors may also struggle to verbalize how prescription painkillers make them feel.
To reduce ambiguities about prescription drug use, a family member could join a senior on their doctor’s visit. This can allow loved ones of the elderly to ask questions about the effects of opioids, exactly when to take them and what to do if an overdose occurs. Attending a doctor’s visit can also allow families to better explain the harms and benefits of these drugs to their senior.
Make a List
Family members can make a list of their loved one’s medications to avoid confusing one prescription drug with another. Jotting down the list of medications is an organized way to keep track of a person’s schedule and to prevent harmful drug interactions.
Keeping a medicine diary can also allow families to monitor the effects of prescription opioids on their elderly loved one. These journals can help individuals keep track of their loved one’s mood and energy levels throughout the day.
Use an Opioid Organizer
Medication organizers are compact storage boxes for pills. These organizers allow people to better understand which pills to take on which day. Many older individuals who are prescribed multiple medications use these products to safely maintain medication schedules.
Pill boxes can reduce the chances that an older individual mistakenly takes the wrong medication. A family member or caretaker can clearly see if a pill was taken and can contact a physician in the event that any medications are misused.
Recognizing Substance Use Among Seniors
As adults grow older, they increasingly report experiencing more pain, emotional problems and other health complications. To reduce physical or emotional distress, many seniors turn to prescription opioids like OxyContin or Percocet.
However, these painkillers are highly addictive. If someone were to use an opioid in larger doses or for longer than recommended, an addiction can quickly develop. A severe substance use disorder can cause compulsive behaviors despite knowing the health, social and legal problems. Addiction can also increase a person’s risk of an overdose.
Signs of prescription opioid abuse among seniors include:
- Taking pills at unusual times of the day
- Filling a prescription for the same medication at different pharmacies
- Exhibiting confusion or forgetfulness
- Hiding their medications
- Exhibiting mood swings or appearing depressed
Health conditions, like diabetes or high blood pressure, can exacerbate the negative effects of substance use. Additionally, many medications used by older Americans interact negatively with opioids, which can amplify health complications or lead to overdose.
What to Do if an Addiction Is Present
Even when used as recommended, prescription painkillers can bring about an addiction. Over time, an individual’s tolerance to these drugs can increase and they could become dependent on them. If a substance use disorder is present, immediate action should be taken.
Treatment has proved to be an effective method for helping many people manage an addiction. The most effective rehab centers typically use the latest techniques in addiction treatment to assist individuals with substance use or co-occurring disorders.
The Recovery Village operates treatment facilities throughout the United States. Each facility caters treatment plans to meet a patient’s specific needs. To learn more about the benefits of treatment, contact The Recovery Village.
Advocare helps families with all types of challenges with senior family members including the challenges of managing complex medications. When looking for the best senior care services in South Florida, call Advocare at (561) 266-3489.