When most of us think about drug dependency or abuse, we think about a younger generation. As experienced Menlo Park senior care experts, we know that drug dependency is a growing concern among the elderly today as more and more seniors become dependent on opioids, stimulants, and other legal drugs in treating or managing pain or other health concerns. Unfortunately, drug abuse among the elderly is a problem that’s only expected to grow in the future. How can you talk to your aging loved one if you suspect he or she is dependent on a potentially dangerous drug?
First, know the difference between abuse and misuse. Some seniors will take more than the prescribed amount of medication without their doctor’s permission simply because the prescribed dose may no longer be effective and they want relief from the pain, insomnia, etc. This is misuse. In the case of drug abuse, an elderly person may use the drug (whether a prescription or non-prescription medication) for enjoyment or a high or “euphoric” feeling, rather than for managing the symptoms or condition.
As a caregiver, what should you do?
If you’re an adult child of an aging parent, determine whether it’s a case of misuse or abuse. If you believe your loved one is misusing a drug, talk with them gently and explain the potential dangers of misuse without the doctor’s approval. It’s important that those who are older understand they can openly talk with their doctor and request a prescription change/update without trying to hide the fact their medication is not as effective as it was originally. Most of all, stress that drug misuse can result in serious risks to your loved one’s health, or even death.
Drug abuse is an entirely different story. Whether your aging loved one takes medications for pain, anxiety, insomnia, or any condition, other factors can lead to abuse and eventually addiction. These factors include stress, anxiety, and depression. If you suspect drug abuse, simply talking to your loved one isn’t enough – he or she needs help from professionals who specialize in senior drug abuse. There are non-profit organizations that can help not only in the Bay Area, but across the nation.
It’s important to understand the consequences of dependency on prescription and OTC medications. Considering the immune system becomes weaker with age, abusing any substance could result in cognitive decline, disabilities, and other long-term damage. When you can’t go it alone, recruit the help of professionals, other family members, even caregivers from an agency that come into your loved one’s home to help out.
At Care Indeed we recognize the fact that seniors are becoming more dependent on potentially dangerous drugs. Our in-home caregivers are available to help those who prefer to live in their own homes enjoy an enhanced quality of life. Contact our Bay Area caregivers today!