Illegal drug use is at an all time high across the continent. Opioid prescriptions are easy to obtain and theft of prescription drugs is common. Health workers, particularly those who work with seniors, are trained to look for the signs of addiction and abuse. It is now common for older adults to become alcohol or drug addicts later in life.
Many seniors aren’t aware that drug abuse is a problem in their community. However, there are constant reports of overuse of prescription drugs in senior living communities. It’s not unheard of to find that seniors are being arrested for the use of illegal drugs. With the legalization of marijuana in many areas, healthcare workers are concerned that drug use will continue to grow. Many seniors are already taking several prescription medications. When street drugs or marijuana are added to these, the consequences can be deadly. Those with dementia may be particularly affected. Quite often drug use can go undetected in this group because the behaviour may be blamed on their illness.
What are some signs of drug abuse in the elderly?
- Loss of interest in hobbies and activities.
- Hostile or abusive attitude.
- Memory loss or confusion.
- Slurred speech.
- Sleeping longer or more often.
- Evasive behaviour.
- Neglecting appearance or hygiene.
Some of these behaviours can be signs of other problems such as depression. Therefore loved ones and caregivers of seniors should take the time to talk with senior family members and stay closely in touch. Spend time with them so you will notice any changes in their behaviour. Seniors may be at a higher risk of abusing drugs after a major life event such as loss of a loved one or a major health setback.