Senior Drug Misuse Problems Often Go Unnoticed
Almost every one of us has a senior in our lives who probably would not be alive if not for prescription drugs. From cholesterol control to blood pressure regulation, medications are able to help with many of the most serious health threats that face the elderly. But any force as powerful as that has a number of hidden dangers, and tragically some of those dangers have remained hidden for years. Some experts in the medical field are now publicizing their concerns that prescription misuse is actually hurting seniors to a greater degree than anyone realized.
Abuse vs. Misuse
Drug abuse is defined as the deliberate use of a medication for a purpose outside its intent—that is, addressing a very specific health issue. We don’t often think of seniors as becoming addicted to prescription drugs, but many of the painkillers and antidepressants prescribed to seniors have severe addictive potential. It is the responsibility of doctors to monitor senior patients for warning signs of addiction and to adjust treatment if necessary.
Misuse, on the other hand, is accidental. Researchers report that one of the primary forms of drug misuse among the elderly is continuing to take a certain medication even though it is no longer effective. A doctor may overlook a known health problem simply because the patient is taking the prescribed drug, not realizing that the body is no longer responding to the treatment.
How to Address the Problem?
As with so many threats to our beloved seniors, the solution is a team effort. Doctors must be careful to evaluate the patient’s medical history and any other relevant factors before prescribing a potentially addictive drug. They must also continue to monitor a drug’s effects instead of assuming it will continue to work indefinitely. Family members and in-home caregivers are in the best position to make sure that seniors are taking prescriptions on time and in the correct dosage. They should also keep a constant eye out for danger signs that a senior is becoming dangerously dependent on a drug, abusing it, or avoiding taking it for some reason. For families that are not able to provide a capable caregiver at each prescription dosage, hiring a professional caregiver is a great solution.
Keeping Prescriptions Safe
We are all thankful to live in an age that gives us access to so many life-saving medications. They are one of the leading influences on our nation’s rising life expectancy and the improved quality of life for the elderly among us. By remaining aware of the power that prescriptions have both for good and for bad, we can help our senior loved ones stay healthy as long as possible.
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