Insightsthe blog of Porter Hills
Addiction in older adults
Porter Hills Home Care
Watch the WZZM13 Senior Wellness segment on this topic.
Last week (Monday, January 22nd through Sunday, January 28th) was National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week® a health observance week that aims to SHATTER THE MYTHS® about drug and alcohol use.
Typically used as a way to inform students about the myths of drug and alcohol, it is also an import issue in our older adult population.
In 2015, the National Institute of Health (NIH) and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) estimated that 17% of people over the age of 65 met the criteria for a substance use disorder (SUD). The rate of SUD among the aging population is projected to increase significantly over the next decade, according to the same study.
Substance Use Disorders in the aging population is often misdiagnosed or overlooked due to comorbid health conditions, dementia or depression. Other factors which lead to SUD being missed in this population are isolation, denial and minimalization. There sometimes exists a lack of understanding of prescription drugs and a blind trust in medical professionals within the aging population as well.
While we know that SUD are an emerging focus within the national political scene, here are some ways to take care of yourself and your loved ones surrounding prevention and treatment.
Do not be afraid to ask your health care provider questions about medications.
If you are prescribed medication that is habit forming, set-up ways to stay accountable with a loved one surrounding your use of the medication.
Develop and implement alternative coping strategies.
Use coping strategies in addition to pain/anxiety medication to help reduce the frequency and duration of your need for medication.
Talk about it!
If you are worried about a loved one’s use of substances, talk about it. One of the most problematic approaches is to ignore or minimize your concerns.
Stay away from stigma.
Mental Health and Substance Abuse are hard enough to live with, avoid stigmatizing language and attitudes surrounding this serious health concern.