Substance abuse in elderly adults is increasing, so family caregivers need to be on the lookout for the symptoms of this serious issue taking place with their own aging relatives. Whether it’s prescription drug abuse, alcohol abuse or illegal drugs, many seniors fall into the trap of substance abuse to deal with unpleasant emotions and raw feelings.
Not only is substance abuse a poor way to deal with mental health issues, but the overuse of drugs and alcohol can also cause serious health issues, especially to seniors. Family caregivers must always be on the lookout for substance abuse issues and coordinate with others that look after the aging adult, such as elderly care providers, to ensure everyone is on the same page regarding the aging adult’s health and wellness.
What are the Symptoms of Substance Abuse in Seniors?
It can be extremely hard to detect symptoms of substance abuse in the elderly because so many of the signs mimic other age-related health issues. Among the most common symptoms of substance abuse are a change in eating habits, muscle tremors, mood swings, poor judgment, forgetfulness, clumsiness, memory loss, and slurred speech. Because so many of these signs mimic other conditions, it can be difficult to identify substance abuse on these alone.
Other behaviors can clue family caregivers and home care providers in on whether the aging adult is having problems. They may have prescriptions for the same drugs from different doctors or pharmacies, they often take medicine differently than how was prescribed, they run out of pills before the prescription is due for a refill and get defensive when asked questions about medication. With alcohol, seniors may have similar behavior, making excuses for consumption, getting defensive about inquiries and finding ways to get their hands on more.
Treating Substance Abuse in Seniors
If family caregivers have seen enough evidence and have gotten feedback from friends, family members and home care providers on the aging adult’s behavior concerning drugs and alcohol, they need to take the next difficult step of getting their elderly loved one to a doctor. Not only will the doctor work with the senior on proper medications and dealing with addiction or withdrawal challenges, but they will also recommend a therapist. The mental health professional can help the aging adult deal with the issues that made them turn to drugs and alcohol in the first place.
It’s never easy to see an elderly loved one succumb to substance abuse and the journey back to freedom can be long and difficult. However, with a supportive team that includes a loving family caregiver, elderly adults can break away from the chains of abuse and addiction and enjoy their lives without the damaging effects.
If you or an aging loved-one are considering Home Health Care in Rockridge, CA, call the caring staff at Aviva In-Home Care. Call today: (415) 795-2203
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