As seniors age, they go through a surprising amount of stress and different kinds of circumstances.
This leads to them trying out different types of drugs and substances, which they then easily get addicted to. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism states that around 17% of adults that are over the age of 60 are affected by drugs and substance abuse.
This alarming percentage should be tackled so that seniors don’t suffer the adverse and fatal consequences of these dangerous drugs.
The role professional elderly companionship services in the U.K. play to reduce substance abuse in seniors is noteworthy.
We have created this post to help caregivers know about different techniques they can use to reduce substance abuse in seniors.
Signs that your elderly loved one is using drugs and substances
Here are some common signs to look out for in your elderly loved one, which are indicators that they might be using drugs.
- Suffering from depression, anxiety, and other mental health concerns
- Sudden mood swings
- Immense change in personality
- Either sleeping too much or too little
- Using sleeping pills or tranquilizers
- Newly developed depression
- No interest in activities or things that used to interest them in the past
- Sudden halt in activities
- Sudden outbursts of anger
- Increased drinking at home
- Confusion or fluctuating memory loss
- Having two or more doctors filling the same prescription
- Preferring to be alone
- Lying about the smallest things
- Not taking care of their personal hygiene and grooming
- Loss of appetite
How you can help reduce substance abuse in seniors
The good news is, there are numerous ways you can help your senior loved one to reduce the use of substances and drugs before things get too serious:
Talk to them
The first thing you should do when you find out your elderly loved one is using drugs or other substances is ‘talk to them’.
You must have a proper conversation with them in a peaceful setting, and ask them the reason behind them using drugs.
You must understand that your senior loved one might be going through a very tough time, or must be struggling with serious mental health concerns.
Therefore, you can only know the cause by talking to them. Be sure to be open, and non-judgmental.
This way, the senior will definitely open up to you, and tell you their concerns and struggles they are going through.
You’d be surprised to know the silent battles they fight every day. We usually take things at face value and fail to understand what hardships they might be going through.
Hence, you must whole-heartedly understand your loved ones, and ensure to them that you will be supportive each step of the way.
Tell them about the possible consequences
You must portray all the drawbacks and serious complications when using drugs. As seniors age, they have only several decades left to live. Therefore, removing drugs and other harmful substances can improve their lifespan, and they can live a healthy and long life.
Talk to your elderly loved one about the serious adverse effects of drugs on their physical and emotional well-being.
Show them the alarming statistics that state that more than 96,700 people die from drug overdoses in a single year, according to the National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics.
Moreover, how drugs can weaken the immune system, and lead to other fatal diseases and illnesses, such as serious heart and liver disease, arthritis, diabetes, glaucoma, cataracts, pancreatitis, colitis, ulcers, gastritis, cancer, and so on.
It’s never too late to get help
Before things get worse, and the road back to recovery becomes more difficult, you should convey to your senior loved one that it’s not too late to get help. If they are struggling to put a stop to using drugs, then they should seek professional help.
Therefore, you must lay out all the possible options of help to your senior loved one. There are numerous elderly drug & alcohol rehabilitation facilities out there that can cater to seniors facing drug and substance addictions.
Tell them how your family is getting affected by it
When seniors indulge in drugs and substances, they don’t really understand how the rest of the family and loved ones are getting affected by it as well. Therefore, this is what you must communicate to your seniors.
Talk to them about how your whole family is worried about their drug use and abuse, and how it is giving a bad perception to the younger generation of the family.
Also tell them how everyone in the family wishes to see the senior live a long and healthy life, which is generally not possible when they’re using drugs and substances.
The road to recovery is challenging. But, the good news is, no one is alone in this journey.
Talk to your loved one about the various drugs and substances support groups out there, who can make their recovery much easier and worthwhile.