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The Surprising Impact of Opioid Drugs on Seniors

Opioid DrugsCertain groups of people are typically stereotyped, and it can be hard not to have preconceived ideas of what these people are actually like. As an example, what ideas immediately come to mind when you hear "drug addict"? A young adult struggling to get through everyday life without a fix, potentially resorting to a life of crime to fund his or her habit?

If that is so, you might be surprised to learn that seniors are breaking the mold, unknowingly experiencing serious addiction problems - specifically, to opioid drugs. Although opioids are typically prescribed for only short-term pain relief, longer term usage of the drugs can result in addiction. And yet, 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, has a different opinion. "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.

As many as 15% of patients are receiving an opioid prescription when leaving the hospital, and almost half of them are still taking that opioid drug 3 months later. The potential to become addicted at that point is alarming. Opioid drugs themselves could certainly leave aging adults tired, groggy, and depressed, and the effects of stopping the medication once addicted may be more serious: nausea, sweating, muscle aches, and more.

So what’s the answer? Supplying yourself with knowledge and asking about less dangerous alternatives to opioid drugs for your mature loved ones is an excellent starting point. But understand that even over-the-counter pain medications might be hazardous for older people, making it tough for medical professionals to know how to best regulate senior pain - managing dangers with the need to remove suffering in elderly patients.

It is essential for all of us, no matter what age, to become knowledgeable about each of our conditions and treatment options, and then make wise decisions in our care - and, to take prescription drugs exactly as prescribed by doctors, for the duration they are prescribed.

Independence-4-Seniors Home Care can assist mature adults in a variety of ways to help avoid opioid addiction. We are able to provide transportation and accompaniment to doctors’ appointments and procedures, pick up prescription medications, and provide medication reminders to ensure older adults are on track with effective medication management. Contact us any time at (630) 323-4665 to find out more ways we can help keep your senior loved one in the Chicago, Illinois area safe and well, right at home.

Posted April 20, 2017
Tags: Medication Management, Senior Health

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