The abuse of substances such as alcohol and prescription drugs is a growing concern among the senior population.
With the many changes and challenges that come along with growing older and entering the later stages of life, seniors may struggle to manage the emotions and feelings that come along with this time in their lives.
As families change and move away, social circles get smaller and connections become lost, and normal aspects of life become more challenging than they once were, some seniors find themselves feeling lost for a way to deal with things and turn, instead, to something they feel can numb the pain.
Substance abuse is a coping mechanism that we might not always notice in our senior loved ones if we aren’t tuned in to the behaviours and changes that come along with it, but with the more delicate state of health in which seniors find themselves, the impacts of a substance abuse problems can be incredibly severe. Older age makes the body more susceptible to the harmful impacts of these substances, and their interaction with other medications or health problems that seniors may be facing can be dangerous.
In working towards the goal of improving seniors’ quality of life and ensuring that they are as healthy, happy, and well as can be, it is important to be aware of the possible signs of substance abuse so that support can be offered to help seniors discuss their struggles and better tend to their health as they continue to grow older and face life’s challenges.
It may be more difficult, in some cases, to detect signs of substance abuse in seniors because the signs may be similar to the symptoms or behaviours that are associated with seniors’ existing health problems such as illness, mental, disorders, or medication side effects. There are, however, signs that, should you notice them, may indicate a substance abuse problem.
- Changes to Sleeping Patterns
- Lack of Interest or Withdrawal from Hobbies and Activities
- Confusion and Memory Problems
- Depression, Sadness, Mood Swings, Irritability
- Withdrawal and Solitary Behaviour
- Slurred Speech
- Unstable Movement
- Pattern of Drinking Outside of Meal Times (especially drinking alone)
- Drinking or Using Drugs Despite Warning Labels of Prescriptions
When You Sense A Problem
If you are concerned that a senior in your life may be dealing with substance abuse and addiction, it is important to seek out help and support for them and for yourself as you work through. Speaking to a doctor or organizations that helps families face addiction can help you to determine what steps need to be taken and the safest, most effective ways to move forward as you work to improve quality of life.