Aches and pains are often viewed as a common part of aging. Years of physical labor and wear and tear can take a toll on the body. Seniors are more likely to be on several different medications, be it for pain, anxiety, depression, blood pressure, or other health concerns. But with this comes the risk of opiate abuse. Family members may unintentionally overlook prescription misuse because they don’t realize their loved one is taking too much or may not need to be on every medication. It can be tough to manage multiple prescriptions. Seniors may forget whether they’ve already taken their pills and accidentally take more. Or, if their pain is not well managed, they may increase their dose on their own thinking more is better. However, this can exacerbate side effects and put them at greater risk for addiction, cognitive issues, and falls. Family members can be proactive by staying involved. Sitting down with seniors and making a list of their medications, how much they take, how often it is taken, and what the medication is for can help keep things organized. Having a pill sorter or setting reminders can help as well. Having their loved one sign a release form allowing the doctor to disclose medical information and discuss prescriptions and care plans can also help with management. Families can voice their concerns and be a part of the decision-making process. Signs of opiate abuse can be subtle. They may include:
- Being overly concerned about having their medication.
- Running out of pills before the next refill.
- Having more than one prescription for the same medication.
- Changes in behavior or mood swings that are out of character.
- Complaining about chronic pain even when on medication.
More medication is not the answer. There are natural and holistic ways of coping with pain that can enhance quality of life without the risk of addiction or side effects. If an elderly parent is abusing opiates, a pain recovery program can help them manage their pain in safer, healthier way.