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How to Prevent Elderly Substance Abuse

By Debbie Waddell, 9:00 am on

Many people associate substance abuse with young adults and teenagers, yet seniors are another part of our population also at risk. If you believe your elderly loved one is at risk for abusing drugs or alcohol, preventive measures should be taken to reduce this risk.

Be Alert During Life Changes

Seniors receiving in-home care in Placer County may be exposed to many major life changes in a short period of time, which can be difficult to adjust to. Retirement, loss of a spouse, and developing new health conditions can all cause a senior to attempt to self-medicate with addictive substances. Because of this, you should pay close attention to your loved one’s emotional state.

Stave Off Isolation and Loneliness

Boredom and loneliness often go hand in hand with substance abuse. However, most seniors will not tell you if they are struggling with feelings of isolation. Make sure your loved one has someone to talk to every day and schedule weekly outings and visits to keep him or her emotionally stimulated.

Explore Alternative Pain Management

Prescription pain medications can be highly addictive, and some seniors may begin to use them for mood enhancement, even after the worst of the pain is gone. If your loved one is recovering from an illness or injury, ask his or her doctor about other pain management techniques that may be available such as heat application or massage. While your loved one may still need his or her prescribed pills, these alternatives could help reduce reliance upon them.

Arrange for Medication Management Services

Some seniors need help monitoring their medication dosages, especially if they are at risk for substance abuse. Knowing a professional caregiver in Placer County checks on your loved one’s daily pill count can help provide you with the peace of mind the medication is not being abused. 

Seek Treatment at the Earliest Signs

Addressing substance abuse can be a tricky subject, yet early diagnosis and treatment may prevent serious consequences to your loved one’s health. Talk to your loved one’s doctor about the signs you have noticed, and ensure your loved one has the support he or she needs to successfully complete a treatment program if necessary.

If you are looking for other ways to keep your loved one safe and healthy, reach out to Home Care Assistance. Our caregivers are available on an hourly or live-in basis and can assist your loved one with a wide variety of tasks, including reminding him or her when medications need to be taken. For seniors who need more comprehensive care, we also offer specialized Alzheimer’s, stroke, and Parkinson’s care in Placer County. For more information and to schedule a complimentary consultation, call a Care Manager at 916.226.3737 today.

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