14 Oct November 2019 – Case Manager News
How does the Opioid Crisis Affect Seniors?
Aside from the nationwide crisis of seniors being addicted to opioids after being prescribed a seemingly harmless medication for pain, there are other physical effects opioids have on seniors that younger generations don’t face.
Nausea—This is the most common negative side effect in seniors. It’s the bodies response to detecting the medicine in the blood stream and can be extreme.
Constipation—This is common and can be a serious side effect if it is not addressed quickly.
Urinary Issues—Specifically, urinary retention is the inability to fully empty the bladder which can result in liver and kidney damage, even failure.
Itching—Severe at times, this annoying side effect is more common in seniors.
Respiratory Depression—Specifically, breathing rate and volume may already be an issue for seniors.
Increased Pain Sensitivity—While that doesn’t seem to make sense, for some people opioids can increase pain sensitivity and cause pain in new places.
Jerky Muscle Contractions—Similar to the hiccups or if you “jump” as you start to fall asleep.
Fall Risk—Even without opioid use, 1 in 4 seniors fall annually which results in an ER visit every 11 seconds and in death every 19 minutes nationwide.
Diminished Bone Density—Seniors are already at risk and long-term opioid use can increase risk.
Impaired Sexual Function—Men who are taking opioids are 50% more likely to have erectile dysfunction.
If you or someone you love needs help with opioid addiction call 800-622-HELP.
To minimize harm, dispose of unneeded narcotics by contacting your pharmacist or local police. The #1 place a person gets narcotics to support their opioid addiction is in a family or friend’s medicine cabinet. Think that wouldn’t happen in your family? Then you have no idea the power of addiction.
If your physician suggests use of an opioid medication, be your own advocate and explore other options.
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