Senior Wellness: Addiction in older adults

Senior Wellness: Addiction

GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. - When it comes to addiction, an often unmentioned part of the population that suffers is those who are a bit older.

Seventeen percent of people over the age of 65 meet the criteria for a substance use disorder. According to the National Institute of Health, that number is projected to go up over the next decade. 

Often Substance use disorders are misdiagnosed or overlooked because of health conditions, dementia, or depression. Isolation, denial, and minimalization can also play a large role in a substance use disorder being overlooked.

Sometimes, the trust put into medical professionals and a lack of understanding of prescription drugs can play a role as well.

However, there are things that can help keep you and your loved ones from becoming part of that statistic.

Ask questions of your health care provider about medications and how they will affect you or interact with other medications you may be taking.

Create a way to be held accountable if you are prescribed a medication that can be habit forming. Make sure your family and friends keep an eye on your use. In some cases, you can also develop and implement alternative coping strategies for the issues your medication is meant to treat. This may help you reduce the frequency or duration with which you need the medication. 

If you are worried about someone's use of substances, don't avoid the subject. Talk to them about it.

One of the biggest problems is ignoring or minimizing your concerns. Stay away from the stigma when discussing the issue. Show concern without using stigmatizing language or attitudes. 

Finally, know the facts. Read through a paper prescription and see what a medication can do. Arm yourself with that knowledge and act accordingly. 

You can learn more about substance abuse and programs for seniors at Porter Hills by following this link.

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