Elders and Opioids


Hello, Thank you for visiting and reading.

I hope you enjoyed the last 2 "bonus" blog posts. I wanted to share those things with you because I thought they would be beneficial to help you and your loved one continue to move forward with new goals, for this new year.

This blog post this week is about the opioid epidemic.
No matter where you are, everyone has heard something about the current changes, laws, and regulations with opioids.

Opioids are a class of medications that include the synthetic (not natural) opioids such as fentanyl, and pain relievers available by prescription, such as oxycodone (OxyContin®), hydrocodone (Vicodin®), codeine, morphine, and many others. Opioid pain relievers are generally safe when taken for a short time and when taken as prescribed. However, they can produce euphoria in addition to pain relief, they can be misused (taken in a different way than prescribed). Misuse can lead to dependence and then overdose, which is how we have had deaths.

As a RN being Certified in Mental Health First Aid, I wanted to share info-graphic below.


So what do you think of those numbers? Has someone you love been affected by opioids?

How does this impact elders?
Two issues of particular concern to older people include:
  • Many seniors report chronic pain, which is sometimes treated with opioids
  • Increased risk of elder abuse
What can you do as a caregiver or if you are a senior reading this yourself?
Chronic pain can be the from the result of many things, like arthritis. Many people see opioids as the only fix, but that is not exactly true. There are some alternative options that should be considered. Some of those alternatives include weight loss, water aerobics, tai chi, massage therapy, and even acupuncture. 

If your primary care provider is not willing to write or even help you find alternative methods (outside of medications) to control, manage, and decrease your pain, ask to have a referral to a pain management specialist. Pain management specialists are physicians and nurse practitioners that only treat pain.

Financially, if the senior is seeking opioids under unlawful terms, this can place the senior at risk for losing all their retirement funds and social security. Even in that some "dealers" may take advantage of the senior.  If the senior has opioids in the home, people may try to manipulate their way into the senior's home to gain access to the opioids, which may result in physical abuse if an altercation occurs.

As a Registered Nurse and Certified Geriatric Care Manager, I have seen family members "steal", "borrow", and "use" opioids from patients; which results in the senior having unrelieved pain because their provider is unwilling to order a new prescription, because the refill dates are too soon. As a result, I always advise all seniors to place their controlled medications, like Ambien, Ativan, and their opioids, in a safe and secured place, and let no one know where to find them.

If you have loved one who needs help with opioid addiction or needs help securing their medications in their home contact me, I'd be happy to help.

To learn more about the opioid epidemic or crisis visit:
https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/opioids/opioid-overdose-crisis
https://www.hhs.gov/opioids/about-the-epidemic/

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Thank you for reading, the official Evolve Senior Solutions, LLC blog by Danielle Harris, MSN, BSN, RN, CMC, CDP also known as #A RN: Disclosed!

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