When people think of prescriptive drug abuse, many don’t think of it as an issue that seniors are commonly faced with. And while the mere numbers may suggest that prescriptive drug abuse does affect the younger members of the community more than the older, senior citizens are actually faced with issues surrounding prescriptive drug abuse specific to them, and in many cases are much more susceptible to abusing prescriptive drugs than one would typically assume.
While adults over the age of 65 are frequently reported as the age group with the lowest percentage of self reported drug abuse, this statistic can be misleading. These numbers may be a misrepresentation of the issue within the community, and the percentage of older adults misusing or abusing prescriptive drugs may be much higher due to the difficulty of diagnosing and recognizing prescription drug abuse in older individuals.
To learn more about the basics of prescription drug abuse and misuse in the senior community go here: http://www.aarp.org/content/dam/aarp/ppi/2017/07/prescription-drug-abuse-among-older-adults.pdf or https://familydoctor.org/condition/prescription-drug-abuse-in-the-elderly/
There are various factors that make recognizing drug abuse in an older individual difficult. One of these factors is the lack of training or understanding providers typically have in identifying substance abuse and addiction in the older members of our community. Many times due to the similar symptoms in older adults, rather than being diagnosed correctly, substance abuse is mistaken as dementia or depression. There is also the problem that many older adults may not realized that they are misusing their prescriptions, and are unknowingly using the drug in an unsafe way—it could be that the adult is taking too much of the medication, or possibly taking it too often.
This inability to recognize and correctly diagnose prescriptive drug abuse in older adults is especially dangerous for their health. For seniors there are many factors that complicate the issue of prescriptive drug abuse. Many times the complications from prescription drug abuse can add to the symptoms of other health issues and exacerbate the problem. And, to make the problem worse, prescription drug abuse or misuse can happen fairly easily. Whether the person is doing it intentionally or unintentionally, it is important to understand that this is an issue that faces the senior community and poses serious risks to their health.
To learn more about the problems associated with prescription drug abuse and misuse in the senior community go here: http://betterhealthwhileaging.net/6-medication-problems-aging/
Beyond the difficulty of identifying the problem of prescription drug abuse in seniors, there’s also the difficulties of recognizing how to approach or help someone you may think is abusing prescription drugs. Or, if you are a senior yourself, it’s important to understand how to keep yourself from unintentionally misusing the prescription medication you’re prescribed. Drug interactions, incorrect dosage, and unclear directions can all be factors in misusing prescribed medications, which can lead to severe health complications as you grow older.
To learn more about how to protect yourself from misusing your prescriptions, go here: https://www.consumerreports.org/prescription-drugs/what-older-people-need-to-know-about-prescription-drug-risks/
This topic can be a tricky one to understand and to talk about, but when it comes to keeping your loved ones healthy as they age, and understanding what you need as you age as well, it’s important to be informed and understand the ways that prescription drug abuse and misuse affects the aging members of our community. If you need any more information, feel free to contact me and I can connect you to the resources you need.
-Renee Johnson, Kontor Realty Group. Realtor and Certified Senior Advisor 55+ specialist.