It starts slowly and innocently at first. An older adult needs relief from the knee or back pain that so often comes with aging. Or, perhaps he had a life-changing event, like divorce or the death of a loved one. This can throw him or her into a pit of depression. A doctor may then prescribe and an antidepressant. Even retirement can bring on anxiety caused by a sudden lack of purpose, structure, and self-worth for which a prescription anti-anxiety medication is recommended. Did you ever think there would be a problem with drug abuse after age 65?
A Common Problem
Although these scenarios sound relatively harmless, they can be the start of drug abuse after the age of 65. According to the New York Times, there are a number of factors that make the elderly in general and today’s aging baby boomers specifically more susceptible to becoming addicts.
- the elderly metabolize drugs and alcohol more slowly which means that they stay in their systems longer,
- tolerance to these drugs increases over time and addiction can begin after as few as 10 days of use,
- more established folks often have the money to afford their addiction, and
- Baby Boomers don’t have the same attitude toward drug use as the previous generation. There is less of a stigma.
Pain pills such as OxyContin and Percocet, along with antianxiety and antidepressant pills like Xanax and Valium, are prescribed most frequently. And since most doctors don’t usually screen for addiction, even low doses can quickly escalate into full-blown addictions. Couple that with the fact that these medications are being used in conjunction with other prescriptions and alcohol, and you have “the perfect storm,” says Brenda J. Iliff, executive director of Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation in Naples, Florida.
Notice the Symptoms
The signs of addiction—like confusion, brain fog, mood swings, and shaking—may not raise red flags when exhibited by seniors. People consider such symptoms part of aging. All too often, medical professionals discover senior addictions only after their elderly patients fall or sustain another type of injury. If you notice any of these symptoms and know that your loved one has been taking pills, schedule an appointment for them with a doctor. You might also try to gently confront them about the issue.
Detox for seniors is difficult and must be slow and carefully monitored. Cognitive and physical issues can also slow detox treatments down. However, once completed, patients can return to living more normal lives, without the debilitating effects of prescription addiction.
Drug abuse is a problem for more than just young people. It may come as a surprise that as we age, we are more susceptible to prescription pill addiction. At David York Agency, our experienced in-home healthcare providers can help to monitor medication and keep an eye out for warning signs of substance abuse. Our staff knows all the latest guidelines for eldercare. All our home health aides are certified.
David York Agency Home Healthcare Can Help Seniors in Riverdale
At David York Agency, we understand the many challenges and risks faced by the aging and elderly and are dedicated to providing care to support them through all of those ups and down. At David York Home Healthcare Agency, extraordinary service is what sets us apart from other companies in Riverdale that provide in home healthcare services.
DYA we could provide direction as to how to manage the total care of your senior loved one. Whatever your care needs, we are there for you, always striving to exceed your expectations. For more information about David York Agency’s qualified, compassionate caregivers, contact us at (718) 376-7755. A free phone consultation can help you determine what services would meet your needs. We aim to provide you and your loved one with the assistance they need. If you’d like to hear more from us, please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter or LinkedIn.