It can be difficult to recognize opioid misuse among seniors, who are particularly prone to the effects of opioids. They could be grappling with a substance use disorder without anyone knowing about it. Family and friends of people ages 65 and older can do their part to help their loved one avoid misusing prescription drugs.
To reduce confusion about prescription drug use, a family member could join a senior on their doctor’s visit. This can allow loved ones to ask questions about the effects of opioids, exactly when to take them, and what to do if an overdose occurs. Attending a doctor’s visit can also help families better explain the benefits and potential harm of these drugs to their loved one.
Make a list
Family members can make a list of their loved one’s medications to avoid confusing one prescription drug with another and to prevent harmful drug interactions. Keeping a medicine diary also can allow families to monitor the effects of prescription opioids on their elderly loved one, tracking moods and energy levels.
Use a pill organizer
Medication organizers are compact, storage boxes for pills that allow people to sort their pills by day and time of day. Using one can reduce the chances that an older individual mistakenly takes the wrong medication, takes something at the wrong time of day, or takes a medication more or less than prescribed. A family member or caretaker can clearly see if a pill was taken and can contact a physician in the event that medications are misused.
Recognizing substance abuse among seniors
Prescription painkillers like OxyContin and Percocet are highly addictive. If someone were to use an opioid in larger doses or for longer than recommended, an addiction can quickly develop. A severe substance use disorder can cause compulsive behaviors even if the person is aware of the health, social, and legal problems. Addiction can also increase a person’s risk of an overdose.
Signs of prescription opioid abuse among seniors include:
- Taking pills at unusual times of the day
- Filling a prescription for the same medication at different pharmacies
- Exhibiting confusion or forgetfulness
- Hiding their medications
- Exhibiting mood swings or appearing depressed
Even when used as recommended, prescription painkillers can cause an addiction. Over time, an individual’s tolerance to these drugs can increase and they can become dependent on them. If a substance use disorder is present, immediate action should be taken to get the person into treatment.
Helping you through the process
If your parent or loved one needs more help than you can provide, contact Oasis Senior Advisors for assistance. We offer resources for seniors and their families, as well as support and guidance every step of the way, so you can feel confident in your senior housing selection. Deciding to make the move to a long-term care community is an emotional, financial, and physically taxing process, but you don’t have to do it alone.