Drug-Related Disorders among the Elderly and How to Cope with It
As you age, you become more prone to different health risks. That is why having a healthy lifestyle is very important. Losing weight, quitting smoking, as well as alcoholic beverages, are some of the things you can do to stay fit. Exercising regularly and eating the healthy diet is also very essential.
Being well-informed about these different conditions and complications that commonly strike the elderly is vital. It will make you more vigilant to guard and prioritize your health as you turn into a senior. Being strong and active despite being old is a cool thing, right?
Take a look at some of these health complications and disorders.
- Chronic Disease. Studies show that a large percentage of the senior population have at least one or two chronic diseases. Most common are heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes. Cases like this require occasional check-up. It is also associated with obesity, which is why having a good life through being active and having the right diet is very important. Also included here is arthritis which people from ages 65 and beyond suffered from. This condition is one of the reasons why the elderly refrain from being vigorous. Cases like this require assistance from the health professional. Osteoporosis which is characterized by low bone mass also causes most of the older adults to lessen their mobility. This condition makes them very fragile in instances of falling or having a fracture which makes them sometimes disabled as their vertebrates collapse.
That is why physical injury is also the reason why a senior dies. It is because the bones shrink and their muscles lose strength as well as flexibility.
Talking about heart disease, this develops because of the risk factors that are being associated with the people as they age. Among these are high cholesterol and high blood pressure which often lead to the heart ailment. Cancer is also among the top killer disease in the seniors. The study shows that it is second to heart disease.
- Cognitive Disorder. Cognitive health pertains to the individual’s capacity to learn, think and remember. Dementia is considered as the number one cognitive impairment challenging the elderly nowadays. One specific type of this is the Alzheimer’s disease which is also the most common condition among the elderly. Also included in this aspect are some mental disorders like depression which study shows is affecting 7% of the older adult population. Depression can take the serious level to the point of committing suicide.
- Undernourishment. This condition of people above the age of 65 is commonly underdiagnosed that leads to other health issues like a weak immune system. It can be a cause of other disorders mentioned above. For example, an elderly with dementia might forget to eat. Other factors like depression can affect his or her diet causing the malnutrition.
- Substance Misuse. Many do not realize, but substance abuse that is commonly drug-related or alcohol-linked is also prevalent among older adults. It is associated with the different prescription medicines given to the elderly to be used for a long period. During medical check-ups, substance abuse is often overlooked among the seniors. That is why this can also result in various health complications.
Treatment and Management of Health Disorders in the Elderly
There are different medications nowadays for the elderly who are suffering from some health issues. It ranges from prescribed drugs to various forms of therapy. Let us talk about this.
There are two common types of prescribed medicines that older adults take.
- Opioids. This substance is being used to control the pain. It includes oxycodone, acetaminophen, and hydrocodone.
- Benzodiazepines. This prescription drug is used to treat insomnia, pain, and anxiety. The drug can also be used to prevent panic attacks. Common types of it are diazepam, alprazolam, clonazepam, and lorazepam.
When it comes to therapy, the following options can be done.
- Psychotherapy. This treatment is commonly used for senior citizens with anxiety disorders. The mental ailment is characterized by constant and frequent hindering worry affecting the lifestyle of the person. The cognitive behavioral therapy is a specific type of the treatment that works for anxiety disorders based on literature and some studies conducted.
- Therapy concerning diet and lifestyle. If older adults will be responsible enough, this therapy is very effective. As they say, prevention is better than cure. It includes having an active lifestyle through regular exercise and eating a well-balanced diet. It is done with the help of an instructor or a specialist that implements a special program to be strictly followed by the elderly. Speech and physical therapy are also included in this.
Aside from these medications and therapy, having a regular check-up must also be a health care priority among the seniors. It only goes to show that they are responsible for their overall well-being especially many issues and complications are being associated with old age.
Drug Abuse among the Older Adults
Drug misuse is also common among the elderly. It is because of the several prescription medicines being given to them. They often used these for a long period and sometimes at an over dosage especially if there is nobody around that assists and monitors them. Most of these drugs are highly addictive if not properly used.
There can be two types of drug abuse on seniors. There are those who have been using the substance for a long time and have reached the age of 65. They are the resilient survivor while the second type pertains to those who only began misusing drugs later in life.
The most common ill-used drugs are opioids and benzodiazepines as well as heroin and cocaine which have great potential for addiction, especially if being used long-term and exceeding the right amount.
Different things can contribute to substance abuse among the older adults. The following are some of the triggering factors.
- Retirement. Before, these people are always busy with their work but now that they have a lot of vacant time some can be tempted to enter drug addiction especially if taking multiple medicines that are addictive.
- Death of a relative or close friend. Some used drug addiction as the refuge when painful events happened in their lives. Sad to say this haven they thought, that they’d run into will potentially destroy their life.
- Financial issues. Loss of income and other financial resources can also be associated with substance abuse.
- Sleeping Disorder. Some seniors tend to use their prescription drugs, again and again, exceeding proper dosage when they cannot sleep. It will result in dependence on the medicine and later on addiction.
- Physical restrictions. Being not able to do the things they love before because of physical limitations, some elderly can be inclined to substance abuse.
In cases like these, the support and care of the family members of the elderly are essential. One should not let them feel that they are already alone in their later years.
How to Tell Instances of Substance Abuse
As an individual who is approaching the age of a senior citizen, it is also important to know the instances if it is already considered as substance abuse especially when using prescription drugs. Let us talk about this.
If an elderly use medication that is not prescribed to him or her, it can already be considered as a form of drug abuse. Taking more prescription medicines than what the doctor instructed is also another form of it. Most of these health items are safe if the expert and professionals advice is being followed.
The risk of addiction becomes high because of the different prescription drugs that they take. In a day alone, these older adults can take more medicines than what is required. Drug interaction also happens when two or more substances react to each other. It makes the medicine less effective and in other cases, result in damaging side effects.
Instances of the seniors taking the wrong medicine are also high. It is more common to happen to those who are not closely monitored especially during their medication. If the drug mistakenly used is highly addictive and is taken for a long period at an over dose amount, chances are the elderly will be dependent on it. It will eventually lead to drug abuse that will cause several health risks.
Drug Rehab for the Older Adults
Having an elderly that is under drug addiction can be frustrating sometimes, but with the help of different treatment and rehabilitation programs today, one must not lose hope. The first thing needed here is the willingness of the senior to enter into the program. Most elderly are afraid to be admitted for one reason or another. It serves as the main obstacles, which is why as a family member you must help them remove this.
- Medical Detox. Elimination of the drugs from the individual is the main focus of this procedure, and that is, of course, being conducted safely. Several medications can be used depending on the health condition of the patient. The negative drug interactions are what specialist must closely monitor when using the medical detox.
- Recovery Support. The support group is a vital component of a drug abuse treatment program. It will be more effective after the implementation of an intensive management of the patient that is well-planned. Supportive peer system is essential here that can be composed of addiction counselors or the family, friends and other members of the community. Other aftercare services are also essential for the senior to fully recover from substance abuse.
- Relapse Prevention. When an elderly stop using the drug he or she is addicted from, you never want to see him or her using the substance again, right? That is why we have relapse prevention consisting of case management that is connected with appropriate psychiatric and medical resources after discharge. Continuous monitoring and follow-up of the condition of the elderly are being conducted.
These drug rehabilitation treatments can also be a mixture of different ages, or it can also be age-specific. It depends on the staff conducting the program and of course the particular needs of the patient.
Other Important Details to Consider
Diagnosing drug abuse among the elderly can be hard sometimes especially if the symptoms are hard to distinguish like if it is just simply a natural effect of old age. That is why trusting only the qualified staff is very essential. They can be physicians, registered nurses, psychiatrists, psychologists, nutritionists, fitness specialists and addiction counselors.
Any program and treatment that will be conducted must be the appropriate one conducted by the certified staff in addiction medicine. It will provide great chances of recovery and even a greater one if the elderly are fully cooperating in the treatment.
Having a flexible program that will adjust to the older adults changing needs is also important to consider as well as employing an approach that treats the whole body as a whole including its different aspects. It means that the program can meet the needs of the patient physically, mentally, emotionally and also socially.
Considering inpatient treatment for those elderly that do not want to leave their home or their community must always be part of the choices. Being aware of all of these is very essential.
As a conclusion, it is vital to be well-informed about all these particulars on the elderly concerning their potential for drug addiction. Whether you are already a senior citizen or a little bit younger, paying attention to substance abuse and the health risks associated with it must always be your concern.
From the instances associated with drug addiction to the different medications and treatments, you must have ideas about it. Aging is a natural process, and nobody can stop it, but you have a choice on how you want to live your later years. You can choose to be a drug abuser that will certainly end your life miserable or you can also live life to the fullest by having a healthy lifestyle.