Senior Citizen Prescription Drug Addiction
As the population gets older pain and loneliness can lead to prescription drug addiction among seniors.
Aging is inevitable. Although some people manage to grow older without encountering many health problems, just as many people must control medical issues with prescription medication. Whether they suffer from chronic pain or a specific disorder, drugs can vastly improve a person’s quality of life when used responsibly.
However, prescription drugs can be abused just like any other chemical substance. And in many cases, people don’t even realize they have developed a dependence on their medication resulting in prescription drug addiction. For the elderly, this dependence can go unnoticed for years—especially when a senior takes a large quantity of medications on a regular basis.
Current studies suggest that about 2.5 million older adults in the U.S. have some type of chemical dependency, which accounts for up to 20 percent of elderly psychiatric hospital admissions. Seniors currently make up just 13 percent of the total population, but they account for 30 percent of all prescriptions issued in the country.
Common Signs of Addiction in Seniors
If your elderly parent or other loved one regularly takes prescription medication, it’s important to know the symptoms of potential addiction. According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD), the following behaviors may indicate a problem:
- Drinking alone
- Patterns of behavior or “ritualistic” behavior, such as a bedtime routine that involves drugs or alcohol
- Losing interest in activities or hobbies
- Hostile attitude
- Confusion or memory loss
- Slurred speech
- Neglecting hygiene or personal appearance
- Ignoring food and beverage consumption warnings on pill bottles
Because many of these warning signs can also be symptoms of age-related or other health conditions, it’s not always easy to identify a drug or alcohol abuse problem in an older person. This is why it’s important for caregivers, adult children, and other family members to have frequent contact and conversations with their elderly loved ones. The more time you spend with them, the more alert you will be to changes in their lifestyle and behavior.
The NCADD warns that seniors are at a higher risk of developing a chemical dependency after certain life events, such as losing a spouse or developing a disabling health condition. For example, almost 50 percent of nursing home residents struggle with alcohol abuse, and older Americans are hospitalized for alcohol-related problems just as often as they are for heart-related conditions.
Get Help for an Elderly Loved One
Alcohol and drug abuse in the elderly can exacerbate health problems and reduce a senior’s quality of life. If you suspect an older loved one is struggling with a drug or alcohol problem, help is available. Call Serenity at Summit today!