Opioids: Surprising Addiction in the Elderly

Opioids: Surprising Addiction in the ElderlyIs it possible you may have a preconceived notion of certain stereotypical groups of people? For example, what comes to mind when you hear the words “drug addict”? Do you think about the various forms of addiction in the elderly or do you think of a young adult unable to get through everyday life without a fix, potentially resorting to a life of crime to fund his or her addiction?

If that’s the case, you may be surprised to discover that older adults are breaking the mold, unknowingly dealing with serious addiction in the elderly – namely, to opioids. Often prescribed for short-term pain relief, longer term use of the drugs can result in addiction. And yet, the American Geriatric Society updated its guidelines in 2009 to highly recommend their use in older adults, who, they reasoned, are less likely to become addicted.

Dr. Mel Pohl, of the Las Vegas Recovery Center, has a different opinion. “There’s no factual, scientific basis for that. The drug takes over in the brain. It doesn’t matter how old the brain is,” he explains.

Upon being discharged from the hospital, as many as 15% of patients are getting an opioid prescription. Up to half of those patients are still taking that medication three months later, which makes the chances of becoming addicted quite alarming. Opioids themselves might leave elderly people fatigued, groggy, and depressed, and the results of quitting the medication once addicted may be more serious: nausea, perspiring, muscle aches, and more.

So what’s the remedy? Supplying yourself with knowledge and asking about less risky alternatives to opioids for your older loved ones is an excellent place to start. But remember the fact that even over-the-counter pain medications can be hazardous for older people, making it tough for medical professionals to know how to best control senior pain – managing risks with the need to take away suffering in older patients.

It is important for everyone, regardless of age, to become familiar with our own conditions and treatment options, and make smart decisions in our care – and, to take medications exactly as prescribed, for the length of time they are prescribed.

Endeavor Home Care, providing in home care – Phoenix and surrounding areas can help in many ways to help avoid opioid addiction in the elderly. We can provide transportation and accompaniment to doctors’ visits and procedures, pick up prescriptions, and provide medication reminders to make sure seniors are on track with effective medication management. Contact us any time at (623) 428-2100 to find out more ways we can help keep your senior loved one safe and well, right at home. Click to view our full service area.

Get some rest! – Help Awaits Those Suffering from Sundowning – Dementia

Help Awaits Those Suffering from Sundowning - DementiaOftentimes at the end of a day caregiving for a loved one with Alzheimer’s, instead of the stress winding down, it can ramp up. As the sun goes down, many persons with Alzheimer’s experience agitation, fearfulness and restlessness. This condition, called sundowning, can be stressful for both the caregiver and the person with Alzheimer’s. Aggravations intensify as family members try to keep the senior suffering from sundowning – dementia calm and safe, while trying to get some rest themselves.

One extraordinary program  provides a solution: overnight care that offers services specifically to people with sundowning troubles. Described as a slumber party ambiance, aging adults take part in a complete variety of structured activities in a safe environment: music and dancing, puzzles, movies, food preparation, and more – delivering family caregivers a much appreciated chance to rest themselves. “Many family members want to care for relatives with Alzheimer’s at home, but in order to do that, the caregivers themselves have to remain healthy. You cannot stay healthy if you don’t get a good night’s sleep,” explains Ruth Drew of the Alzheimer’s Association.

There are certain steps one can take to try and restore a healthier sleep pattern for seniors with Alzheimer’s disease.

  • Make sure the senior is exercising daily (early in the day).
  • Make sure he or she experiences the sunlight in the morning.
  • Have a set routine for meals, bedtime and wake-up time.
  • Use a softly lit nightlight at nighttime and keep the bedroom a comfortable temperature.
  • Have the senior avoid nicotine, caffeine and alcohol.
  • If the person with Alzheimer’s is restless or unable to sleep, encourage him or her to get out of bed. This way, the bed will be seen as a place for sleeping only.
  • Find quiet, calming activities for the senior to engage in during wakeful times, but avoid watching TV.

If none of the alternative approaches are working for the senior, the doctor may recommend a medication, such as:

  • Tricyclic antidepressants
  • Particular antipsychotics (noting that some antipsychotics are related to an increase of stroke and even death in those with dementia – so proceed with caution)
  • Drugs to aide in falling and staying asleep
  • Benzodiazepines

Make sure to look at the risks vs. benefits of any treatment option recommended by the senior’s physician. And, keep in mind that a treatment plan that works now may not be as effective as the disease progresses – and vice versa.

Arizona’s best home care company, Endeavor Home Care, can also help with overnight caregivers in the home to help restore peace to your loved one suffering from sundowning dementia. Contact us at (480) 535-6800 to learn more.

being a caregiver

Being a Caregiver Is No Joke. Reduce Stress with These Life Hacks.

Being a Caregiver Is No Joke. Reduce Stress with These Life Hacks.“If only there were a few more hours in the day!” If you are in the “sandwich generation,” most likely you can relate to this sentiment, as you are constantly juggling the needs of your children and the needs of your aging parents. The following tips, however, may help to shave just a few minutes off your to-do lists and make your role of being a caregiver a little bit easier.

  • Plan tasks strategically. Generate a plan for recurring duties to enhance efficiency. For example, map out all of your stops in the most well organized manner, and combine jobs such as laundry and grocery shopping for your senior loved one with your own.
  • Keep the car stocked with supplies. Stash a container of useful items in the trunk to have accessible at all times: comfortable walking sneakers, a fleece or sweater, toiletries, snack food items with a long shelf life – all that you feel might come in handy for the particular scenarios you might find yourself in on any given day.
  • Skip urgent care facilities. Urgent care visits may lead to several hours of time lost spent in the waiting room. Consider getting in touch with the physician instead to get a same-day appointment, in particular mid-morning, when the day’s cancelled appointments have yet to be filled.
  • Keep paperwork organized. Keeping copies of all important paperwork together, perhaps in a brightly colored, easily identifiable folder, is essential in the event of an emergency. Documents in the folder should include: medical insurance information, list of medications, emergency contacts, advance directive, health care proxy, and power of attorney.
  • Keep a positive outlook. Enjoying a few quiet moments the first thing in the morning to reflect on the things you’re grateful for may go a long way towards alleviating stress and setting the stage for a more productive and positive day. Repeat as time permits during the day, especially when feelings are running high.

The most beneficial tip we can suggest is partnering with a professional Scottsdale, AZ home care company, like Endeavor Home Care. We can help in more ways than you might realize, including running errands, shopping and meal preparation, light housework, and more, along with hands-on personal care and companionship. See our full service area and contact us at (480) 535-6800 and discover a stress-free life for both yourself and your older loved one!